Friday, July 25, 2008

Where the wild things aren't

We went camping this past weekend. On every trip to the bathroom or the beach, and every time my young niece wanted to go for a walk or my daughter wanted to go for a bike ride, we would stop along the path to pick plump purple wild saskatoons. They were delicious. (If you’ve never had them, they’re a little like blueberries, but they grow in trees instead of small bushes close to the ground.) Other than an unfortunate encounter with a bee, the girls enjoyed the opportunity to pillage the woods. What was almost second nature to me – to pluck a ripe fruit out of the bush along the path – was rather novel for them.

Though I’m not planning to move out of the city any time soon, some days I lament the fact that my children have so little opportunity to enjoy things in the wild. I spent many of the summers of my childhood looking for wild things. In the Spring, we hunted through last year’s grass to try to spot the first fuzzy purple crocus to poke its way to the surface. A little later in the season, we’d wander the fields looking for wild tiger lilies or bright orange cowslips. Along our driveway, the bush was lavishly dotted with soft pink wild roses. Those were a little more tricky to pick, though, because of the thorns. We felt especially lucky when we’d stumble on wild ladyslippers in the cattle pasture – but we always heeded the warning of my older brother who said that those should NOT be picked because they were becoming endangered.

Then there were the fruits of the wild – chokecherries along the path to the barn, wild raspberries along “raspberry lane” where we’d ride our bikes to the field to bring dad his lunch, wild saskatoons, and occasionally – when we were lucky – wild strawberries.

Wild animals were mostly for looking at (like the wild beaver that inexplicably made its way to our dugout, miles from a stream or river), but occasionally even those were fair game for the capture. I remember standing at the base of a tree where my older brothers had instructed me to guard a raccoon while they went back to the farmyard for a box. I shirked my duties, though, when the raccoon started coming down the tree – I think I beat my brothers to the farmyard.

My kids are completely “citified” (wow – spell check says that’s a word!). Almost everything they come into contact with is domesticated or tame. Fruit only comes from the store (with a few exceptions, like the raspberry bushes at their grandparents’ house); and flowers are either planted in the flower beds, bought at the florist, or mowed over with the lawnmower. And wild creatures? Well, you should see the way they react to bugs that get in the car! Oy veh!


bbb said...

Thank-you, H, for the wonderful memories! I feel very much the same way - saddened that I can't provide that kind of experience for my kids. It seems that there is a lot of "life knowledge" and yet at the same time a lot of "innocence" that my kids will miss by growing up in the city. It's almost enough to make be jealous of your other brother. Almost. Or, perhaps more accurately, "in some ways". :-)

andrea said...

Sweet memories. This post doesn't help with my gulit over allowing my now teenage boys so much computer time this summer. But once they hit this age there's not a lot I can do about it. Being at Cowichan Lake I was the one who wanted to be outside all the time. What happened?

Liz said...

I had the same upbringing...I was always out picking raspberries and getting all scratched up. I was in charge of all the gardening and spent tons of time mucking stalls and transferring manure from the new pile to the gardenable pile.

My girls like the fruits of my labor, but if asked to help in the garden? Well, they have better things to do in the house.

Stephanie said...

It is precisely because of my childhood memories of running through the woods, picking wild flowers, and wading in the creek, that we have made the decision to move next door to my parents. If it weren't for my kids, I could probably live the rest of my life hours away from my parents. But knowing I can give my kids the same kind of childhood that I had? I have to believe it will be worth it, even though I'll desperately miss suburban living.

Sounds like you had a fun time camping! We still need to find time to go do that this summer.

Pamela said...

I'm on my way to check out saskatoons. It sounds like what I call "service berry"