Let there be love

P1010738Driving home after a perfect day out in North Wales, the jazz cd we were playing reached the classic Nat King Cole track, Let There Be Love.

I tuned into the words and really listened. Even though I know this song pretty much by heart, some of the words jumped out as being significant:

……Let there be birds to sing in the trees….

…..Let there be cuckoos, a lark and a dove, but first of all please, let there be love.

Birds singing in trees – cuckoos, larks, doves – all aspects of nature and the natural world which nowadays too often gets pretty short shrift.

During visits to Twitter I learn of trees being cut down in Sheffield, the culling of ravens going on in Scotland, cuckoos – once a welcome iconic sound in Spring – being heard less and less, and turtle doves under threat of extinction. Raptors are persecuted, badgers are culled, foxes hunted, grouse are raised to be shot for sport, hares are killed off….the list goes on and on. It’s depressing, it’s negative, it’s anti-life.

If just a small amount of love (and respect) could be extended to nature and the natural world by each and every one of us, along with a true appreciation of the environment, maybe what lives within it wouldn’t end up being so heavily under pressure to be controlled.

Of course, we first have to extend that love and respect to ourselves as individuals, and from there it can flow outwards towards others around us. And that includes the natural world too.

We’re here to learn about love and harmony, not division and dissent. The words of Nat King Cole’s song, and countless other love songs besides, remind us of this.

 

Fairies of the Trees

 

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Walking through a country park last week, the air heavy with the scent of May blossom, I was reminded of a childhood book which I still have: Fairies of the Trees by Cicely Mary Barker. A short poem – my favourite in the book – begins

“White May is flowering, Red May beside;”

I can remember the rest of the poem too, but I found the book – obviously kept as one I treasured – and checked it out. The book was a Christmas gift from my godmother when I was 6 years old and is still in fairly good nick: I was encouraged to look after my possessions!

 

ReadingP1050685 this poem as a child, I learned to identify May, Laburnum and Lilac. Other poems taught me about Elderflowers, Sycamore seeds with wings, Ash keys and Guelder roses.

Cicely Mary Barker was an illustrator; her books on Flower and Tree Fairies were first published in the 1920s, so some of the verses she wrote may sound a tad twee to modern ears. But the messages about nature and what’s around to looked at, enjoyed and appreciated are all there in her books. Many things in childhood now are sourced differently. Much information comes directly from the internet rather than through observation of the real world of nature all around, outside the window, in the street, in the park, in the trees, even in patches of grass and rough ground.

 

There’s a poem on the first page of my Fairies of the Trees book, entitled Look Up! Encouraging children to check out what they learn on the web alongside what is real, tangible and observable is a valid and engaging way of “teaching” them science.

Look up, look up, at any tree!

There is so much for eyes to see:

Twigs, catkins, blossoms: and blue

Of sky, most lovely, peeping through

Between the leaves, some large, some small,

Some green, some gold before their fall:

Fruits you can pick: fruits out of reach;

And little birds with twittering speech…..