Saturday, April 9, 2011

This One's For The Kids

In the past 18 months, five new little ones have come into our lives! Just out of our newlywed year, my partner and I are still getting used to the notion of knowing children. But just as our friendships with their many parents began, they are fascinating from the first moment, and we are transfixed!

First came Wesley, born in the winter but already owning the bleached summer blonde of a heartbreaking rambler. Next was sweet little Adaliyne, all dark eyes and cheeks, with an easy October smile. Then giggling and handsome, blue-eyed Bridger, born on J.R.R. Tolkien's birthday. Followed by long and lean Iris, sliding into the mixed March light with still-cloudy eyes, a talisman birthmark and the warmth of a fresh baker's dozen. And the newest, fearless Talan, future Riverkeeper and keymaster to a wilderness renaissance.

We are lucky to know the next generation of our dear friends and loved ones. Some born to gardeners, and some not.  All of them holding some magic for us.  All known somewhat intimately through their parents, across life's webbing geography that separates us from all but one. In recognition of them, and of all the little ones out there, this post is dedicated to cartoons, childrens' books, and nursery rhymes.

These little verses are for the youngest, for the snow still falling on the mountains, for the robins and flowers of Spring, and for the squirrels planting nuts in the garden when they think nobody's looking.

"I Had a Little Nut Tree"

I had a little nut tree

Nothing would it bear

But a silver nutmeg

And a golden pear;

The King of Spain's daughter,

She came to see me
And all because of my little nut tree.

I skipped over water,

I danced over sea

And all the birds in the air

Couldn't catch me.

"The Crocuses"
by Frances E.W. Harper

They heard the South wind sighing
A murmur of the rain;
And they knew that Earth was longing
To see them all again.

While the snow-drops still were sleeping
Beneath the silent sod;
They felt their new life pulsing
Within the dark, cold clod.

Not a daffodil nor daisy
Had dared to raise its head;
Not a fairhaired dandelion
Peeped timid from its bed;

Though a tremor of the winter
Did shivering through them run;
Yet they lifted up their foreheads
To greet the vernal sun.

And the sunbeams gave them welcome.
As did the morning air 
And scattered o'er their simple robes
Rich tints of beauty rare.

Soon a host of lovely flowers
From vales and woodland burst;
But in all that fair procession
The crocuses were first.

First to weave for Earth a chaplet
To crown her dear old head;
And to beautify the pathway
Where winter still did tread.

And their loved and white haired mother
Smiled sweetly 'neath the touch,
When she knew her faithful children
Were loving her so much.

For the next older set, one of my favorite new childrens' books is A Seed is Sleepy.  There are endless positive reviews online, both for Diana Aston's writing and for Sylvia Long's beautiful watercolor illustrations.  For those of you local to Portland, you can visit it in person at Presents of Mind and Powells Books.

Books have always fascinated me.  As a child, well against the good advice of my mother, I read under the covers at night with a flashlight into the early morning hours.  As the batteries drained and dimmed the light, I shook the flashlight to get every next sentence I could.  For children of the ages to get away with this, the link for you is  There's a whole section of award-winning gardening books for kids of various ages.  It has all the old classics parents will remember from grade school libraries (if you frequented these in the 80's, ha!) - I have no idea what's in them anymore.  

And for those who can't pull free from pixelated images in light-tube display (I'm looking at a certain nephew here), a little cartoon delight.  Happy Saturday!

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