by Nancilee Wydra
What wonders await the eyes, heart and mind of
those who explore the earth? There could not be a more fertile source for a
child's imagination that outside in nature. All the ingredients which feng
shui's uses as a guide to replicate inside are out there for the enjoyment.
The ingredient that makes nature so compelling
is proportion. Children do not ponder the oversized scenes with as much rapture
as they do the intimate, manageable, detailed and small. By contrast the grand
scenes seem out of focus, hardly touchable and merely abstractions which don't
permit as much integration, enmeshment and involvement. You can hide in a group
of bushes, smell their aroma, investigate the veins and other details in their
variegated surfaces. A distance ridge only promises to be a fertile playground
but doesn't deliver anything but mental images.
Nabhan and Trimble in the Geography of
Childhood write that a quarter of the children born in the United States
during this next generation will start their lives in urban slums and will never
experience the land upon which food is grown. The thought of not having a first
hand experience with a variety of flowers, shrubs, trees, grasses, birds or
other wood living animals is not unimaginable to me. My first seven years were
in Brooklyn, where cement replaced dirt and lawns were wild lands. I remember my
astonishment after moving to a suburb surrounded by two thousand acres of
reservation and seeing for the first time a tomato growing on a vine. I could
hardly believe that a slim green rope could support the weight of the plump, red
ball. Certainly a child can't experience every thing under the sun, but
attention to what is possible is a vital to supply a full, well-rounded life
Nature affords unabashed freedom for a child.
A child can't break many things outdoors that will call forth adult's wrath.
Sure you can step on a flower bed, ride a bike tire rut into a wet lawn and or
not adhere to a sign warning to pick no flowers, but generally nature provides a
random abundance that precludes, in most cases, destruction by children. Toss a
pebble into the water at a pond's edge and surely a replacement can be found.
Climb a tree to examine a hollow, roll down an incline, or move buckets of water
onto hollowed out earth are all activities that indoors are either forbidden or
need close supervision.
The freedom afforded a child by the diversity
and non-destructiveness of outside is a characteristic that must be focused on.
No temperature extreme should preclude a child from having a natural place to
explore. When properly dressed, the outdoors can be explored year round.
The unique feature about unattended nature is
surprise. A frog huddling under a rock, a lizard scampering out from the
underbrush and a bit of fool's gold glimmering from a rock are the kinds of
adventures that children cherish. We tend to keep things in the same place
indoors and although there is comfort in predictability, it can promote boredom.
Attention paid to altering indoor environments can simulate nature and hence
make them more stimulating. I am not suggesting dragging furniture around
weekly, but am suggesting circulating toys, posters, and games so that a revisit
can reanimate a child's interest.
Critters, a consistent factor outdoors, are
fascinating to children. Lines of ants, grasshoppers, squirrels and their daily
adventures are endlessly engaging. Since all critters cannot be pets, I suggest
creating habits that draw them to areas that can be seen from a child's indoor
play space. Regula, my literary agent has fourteen bird feeders and three suet
dispensers on her property. There is not a window that does not frame the wild
life that flocks to these feeding stations. Many years ago when I was teaching
in New England, I was consulting for a family with an asthmatic child who loved
animals but was highly allergic to them. The feng shui remedy was to hang bird
feeders, plant butterfly attracting flowers, set up squirrel food dispenses and
deer licks outside her bedroom windows.
Think about the benefit of a tree. They can be
climbed, hidden behind, provide shelter, are landmarks, and afford privacy.
Green leaves provide a dazzling array of shadows on the ground and a
kaleidoscope of shapes which to look through from the ground. Closes up, green
leaves are fascinating to look out with their variegated interior shapes,
diversity of textures to touch and mouth. Fall leaves can be piled, tossed,
kicked, crumbled and used for collages. What object indoors provides such a
plethora of opportunities? Even a felled tree sports materials for fort
building, acrobatic ventures and places crying out for search parties to
discover dens of little animals or surfaces for spores and mushrooms. If you are
lucky enough to have ground surrounding your home, plant a tree. Choose a fast
growing one or perhaps a fruit tree whose limbs remain close to the ground. No
bought object can match the medley of opportunities, as do these stately live
Natural habitats are grounds upon which a
child can be the architect. Their interaction is meaningful as it is with other
forms of creative partnerships such as painter and canvas, musician and
instrument, or welder and metal. Indoors the creation is formed, conceived by
adults to meet social, economic and cultural needs. Outdoors the canvas is blank
in so far as the intervention is as large as the imagination of the inventor.
Leaving or creating a wild space for your child to explore in your backyard or
nearby is a gift equaling unabashed freedom to be themselves.
Nancilee Wydra, Feng Shui Master and author of five books on
feng shui travels the country lecturing and consulting for Fortune 500 companies
and individuals. She is the founder of the Feng Shui Institute of America, which
has developed the first nationally certified professional training program on
feng shui in the country offered at the following:
Some of Nancilee's Book