It’s Spring! And in the Spring, the Squirrels come out to play. One of my favourite things to do in the Spring is to watch the Squirrels play and explore as I make up stories in my mind of what they are doing. While they spiral up and down trees at lightning speed, hang precariously upside down and make some interesting noises while their entire body vibrates, I am using imaginative play that leads to stories about weather and what is happening in the world around me.
We can deepen our relationship with Nature by taking a moment to pause and watch all that unfolds in front of us. This can even happen in the city and urban green spaces, nature is all around us.
In the Wheel of the Year, we are leaving Brigid’s Day behind and entering the season of Ostara (Spring Equinox, Easter). With this new season among us, squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits as are a great way to stay in tune with the many changes taking place in the natural world.
The book: Take Along Guide to Rabbits Squirrels & Chipmunks by Mel Boring (Author), Linda Garrow (Illustrator) has interesting facts about the different species, habitats, and diets of these particular animals. I use this book as a guide to inspire me on what to look for and then I use its information to be age-appropriate in my delivery with children. With younger child, the focus is on colours. As they age and mature, so do their interest levels, so the conversations can take new forms and evolve into parts of a tree, tree identification, what the animal eats, where the animal lives, and more talk of the true seasons.
The food chain becomes an interesting topic to explore with older children. We talk often about ecology and the meaning of the relationship between the animal, the tree, the plants, the water and the predators in a chain. The older kids can learn parts of the world the animal is found in and also explore latin names and genus. The Squirrel, Rabbit and Chipmunk together could take up an entire summer of learning if you wanted. There is so much to explore.
Yes, academics are important and in my world, so are story and folklore. The other reason I love this book is because of the rabbit and its connection to Easter! The science of nature tells us that rabbits pro-create in the Spring and chickens begin to lay more eggs, but how and where does an Easter Bunny handing out eggs come into play? The ancient druids explore how a Hare steals the nest of a Lapwing bird and thus is seen with eggs. My curiosity often has me following a trail to research the Saxon Goddess Ostara herself for stories of rescuing a frozen bird and turning him into a Rabbit. Remember, any story can be re-told in child-friendly terms.
If you are open to it, the legends of Easter can take you into an entire educational journey of world religions and ancient traditions. It all starts by getting curious about a Rabbit!
So as Spring slowly makes its way into your life this year, where does growth show up in your world?
Can you learn a new legend, study a new species, spend some time in quiet reflection examining the antics of critters that play in the Spring? Where can the word balance open up your life to being one foot in man’s world and one with nature? I find children are the best teachers at getting back into mystery but we can take some steps ourselves if we only remain curious enough to try. Happy Easter!