Fairy Gardens and Treasure Hunting
Juvenile non fiction
If you are a baby boomer like me, you played outside a lot
during your growing up years. You probably had lots of opportunity to
carry out projects limited only by your imagination. Things have
changed a lot since then, not for the better. Some kids from high
pressure homes have after school lesson schedules that would challenge
a grad student. Other kids spend their free time in front of
electronic devices. Still others spend their time with toys and
accessories that lend themselves to stylized, scripted indoor play.
Think Disney princesses.
Anyway too many kids are missing out on the joy of self-directed
outdoor play and exploration. Fortunately the tide has started to
turn. We have parents wanting their kids to have the chance to be
more free range. Fairy Garden Handbook and Treasure Hunter's
Handbook, both by Liza Gardner Walsh, are delightful little volumes
that will entice just about any child to get outside for creativity
Fairy Garden expands the lovely concept of fairy houses.
Children learn many of the basics of organic gardening beginning with
the most basic needs of plants. But putting in the flora is only the
start. There are all sorts of accessories to craft. Fortunately, the
fairies much prefer those created from natural materials to those
bought from specialty stores. There is a garden just right for every
available plot from containers of a wide variety to garden forts and
refuges for bees and butterflies. There are also indoor projects for
those days (in states like Maine those months) when weather is less
Treasure hunting is an almost universal thrill. My son sifts
through coins looking for rare ones while I never see the yard sale or
thrift shop I can pass by. Treasure Hunter's Handbook is a lovely
blend of practical instruction and legend and lore. The book begins
adventurously with pirate treasure and how to hunt for it. There are
also chapters on panning for gold, geocaching and letterboxing,
hunting rocks and minerals, and discovering found treasures like sea
glass and fossils. Walsh points out, to a true treasure hunter, it's
more about the process than the result. Often the most precious find
will be an unexpected item of nature like a perfect rock that will
evoke cherished memories whenever it's looked at or touched.
Both books in themselves are treasures. They are written in an
inviting and empowering style. The photographs of children fully
engaged in self directed play and exploration are priceless. It
delights my feminist heart that the author doesn't have the girls all
creating fairy gardens while the boys all hunt treasure.
Parents, we've hit the late summer doldrums. This is when often
our kids who were so excited just to get out of school in June are
telling us they are bored because there's nothing to do.
I've got a boredom busting suggestion. Put either of these books
where your children will find them and step out of the way.
On a personal note, I am daily in a treasure seeking mode. When I
walk between towns I carry plastic bags for the returnable cans and
bottles I find. I call it my year round Easter egg hunt. It
motivates me days I don't feel like walking. Thursdays I check out
the thrift store dumpster. Last week I found a silver Cross gift
quality mechanical pencil. True that.
A great big shout out goes out adults and children who hunt for
treasure and exercise careful stewardship of plants and other natural
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod