Are you seeing and feeling the first signs of Autum/Fall in your part of the world?
We definitely are! Everything seems so pleasant last few days – the early morning ultra-cool breeze, the afternoon sun, the wild flamboyant wind that have our doors and windows dancing to its tune…
Pari and I went for an impromptu nature walk yesterday at 11 AM. And, no we didn’t have to go to the woods to enjoy nature. Our backstreets are as good as jungle treks these days!
Check out some thoughts (and pics) on how we were able to create an enriching nature experience using stories, senses, song, dance and art. And, overall – by being truly present in the moment.
The bylanes behind our residential complex have metamorphosed beautifully after heavy rains this monsoon. These deserted paths have wild treasures hidden and strewn about – for the curious, nature-loving souls.
These Bajra (in Hindi) or Pearl Millet or Cattail Millet that you see in the picture below are all around in our alley. They have sprung up from the grain that people feed to the pigeons. What a lovely sight for us nature-starved souls…
Not just a beautiful sight but a joyful sensory experience too. Pari couldn’t help touching the fluffy bajra pods.
The Aak (Sodom’s Apple or Swallow-wort) plants are in full bloom, too – their mauve and purple accent can inspire home-decorating ideas. Don’t you think so?
The Datura plant (below) has an interesting story. Here, in India, we call them Dhatoora. They’re also known as Angel’s Trumpets or Moonflowers. They were well known as an essential ingredient of love potions and witches’ brews.
Interestingly, both Aak and Dhatoora have great mythological significance in the Vedic texts. They are said to be Lord Shiva’s favourite.
Pari was amazed to know Shiva is fond of the juice of the thorny Dhatura fruit!
Besides its mythological significance, the Aak plant is very important in Ayurveda for its medicinal value. Read this article to know why Aak is considered a life taker as well as life giver!
And, here’s a wonderful, free e-book that documents the traditions associated with plants since ancient times in India.
From Shiva to ‘Bajre ki roti’ (Pearl Millet bread) – we talked about how my mom rolls out the Bajra dough in her palms – without using a rolling pin. Watching her do that is pretty amazing!
In the next couple of hours, we discovered, explored, touched, felt, smelt a ton of things.
- The young, tender and shining Peepal leaves. We talked about how glossy they looked as if nature has applied a coat of varnish or glass colour. We compared them to the older leaves. We also touched and felt that their veins were not prominent.
- Leaf Shadows dancing in the wind
- Insects, Bugs and Butterflies. Interestingly, these days Pari and I are enjoying the I Wonder Why book about Creepy Crawlies and learning how to differentiate between insects, bugs and other creepy crawlies (insects have head, thorax and abdomen but in bugs thorax and abdomen are fused). This nature walk helped us apply that information in practical ways.
- Spider webs, ant colonies, eaten-up leaves (most likely by caterpillar?)
- Pari danced to the music of the wind, while I sang. Ever since I got passes to that Arif Lohar concert – from my brother and sis-in-law – as my birthday gift, I can’t stop singing this song. Isn’t that so thoughtful of them.
Listen to the song here. You may not be able to make out the meaning, but the music is so awesome, it’ll grow on you…
We both really enjoyed in the moment – singing and dancing to the tune of the fancy-free winds swaying everything that they were passing over.
More Stories in the Middle of Nature Walk
The Neem (sorry no pic) is a very common tree in our part of the world. We stopped by to smell the leaves and pluck some so I could dry, crush them up and throw in the boxes of rice, pulses and other dry items. Neem keeps the bugs away from food items.
I shared with Pari some stories from my childhood about how we boiled neem in water and used the water for bathing to keep rashes and skin diseases away.
All this tied back to art and play at home.
This is how…
We made paint brushes with weeds and grasses and painted in our art journals…
Even used the bajra (Pearl Millet) pod to paint lovely textures.
Come back soon to see our finished paintings… :-)
Some related resources…
- Read to know how your child can keep a nature journal – as a follow-up activity after a nature walk
- This bug guide is totally impressive (and massive) – for folks in the U.S. and Canada
- And, for all of us in India, this nature study resource is really useful
- I’d liked these paint brushes made with natural material at Doodles and Jots