“Look it, look it Agathe!!” scream little Scarlet as she grabs my hand and start running. “It’s growing!” I run to see what she is pointing at. The flowers from her Scarlet Tipi are in bloom. Delicate, deep red, and beautiful elongated flowers are covering the tapestry of green. She turns into a wild tiger. “Just pretend I am a tiger in cage”. As I move throughout the garden, I can hear her roar.
I discovered the scarlet runner beans last year. Since this plant produce a very delicate flower that holds my favorite four years old name, I decided to build a tipi where she could hide and incisively rebuilt her micro universe. The runner beans that I planted at the base of the structure are now wrapping all over it along with the neighboring squash that are threatening to invade the whole town. It’s July in the rainforest.
Knees and hands in the earth, I am concentrating on removing weeds and adding manure to the ground. Scarlet is still in her green tipi, I think her game has evolved to pretending to serve tea to a bunch of rocks. I can hear her talking to her imaginary guests “Would you prefer flower and soil tea or green leaves and rocks?”. I can’t help but smile; children have so much imagination!
My intention when I ripped the lawn away to build the tipi was to facilitate a connection with nature. I wanted Scarlet to develop affinities with this special place and feel safe at the same time. Special, because the beans have the same name but also because I knew she loves hiding in small structure. She wants to become a professional fort builder. Rachel Carson explains well what I was trying to teach Scarlet.
For the child… it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil. Once the emotions have been aroused - a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love…It is more important to pave the way for a child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts that he is not ready to assimilate.
Yesterday, Scarlet and I visited the tipi. I had not been home for a full month. I could barely see her hiding in her green universe. We decided I would need to built a much bigger structure next year as the wine are hanging free in the air trying to reach for the adjacent sunflower heads.
Children have such a special way of connecting with nature. Unfortunately, primarily in urban settings, increasing numbers of children are losing contact with the natural world.
"Along with milk and vegetables, kids need a steady diet of rocks and worms
Rocks need skipping.
Holes need digging.
Water needs splashing.
Bugs, frogs and slimy stuff need finding"