QOTD: the proper life for a child (and the rest of us, for that matter!)

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“It is no accident that the Swiss have such beautiful children’s stories: they do not inhabit large towns. A metropolitan child doesn’t even know what it means to be a child. To be a child means to play in the fields, amidst grass and trees and birds and butterflies, under the endless canopy of a blue sky, in a great silence in which the crowing of the neighbor’s cock is an event, as is the Angelus bell or the creaking of a wheel. To be a child means to live with the seasons, the first snow and the first colt’s-foot, the cherry blossom and the cherry harvest, the scent of flowering crops and dry grass, the tickling of the stubble on one’s bare feet, the early lighting of the lamp. The other thing is a surrogate, shabby, cramped, musty, an adult’s life in miniature.”

— Joseph Hofmiller (1872-1933)

 

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When you’re hiking, keep your music to yourself | MNN – Mother Nature Network

hiking boots trek across a log over a river, forest vacation
You’ll never hear the babbling brook if music is blaring. (Photo: everst/Shutterstock)

The whole point of getting out into the natural world is to see, smell and hear the sounds of nature.

Source: When you’re hiking, keep your music to yourself | MNN – Mother Nature Network

How well I know this feeling! There are few things that bother me more, when I’m out in nature, than someone who has supposedly “escaped” into nature, but who has brought their “civilization” with them… and is thoughtlessly “sharing” it with everyone else around.

About the only thing that equates to that, in terms of sheer annoyance in the woods, is litter – and even that isn’t (usually) as all-pervasive as technological noise can be. Besides, as this article points out, noise pollution is pollution, too! One is, in effect, “littering” the auditory sense.

It reminds me of those who move to the country, where it gets dark at night and you can actually see the stars – and then proceeds to light up their house and yard all night long, not only ruining the possibility that they might enjoy the wonders of the night sky, but ruining it for others, too.

It is simply inconsiderate to others around you, and intensely selfish and “me”-focused… but, sadly, that can be said about much of contemporary society. I know there is hope; I know there are many people who care. But the sheer Philistinism of today’s culture and society is depressing.

The barbarians are not at the gates; they have long since overrun the city. And now they’re threatening to overrun the countryside, too!

Personal note: new water bottle!

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It is neither particularly Anglophilic, nor particularly Anglican, but I have a “real” water bottle again, after years of making do with reused juice bottles (reduce, reuse, recycle…). Visited REI Outdoors in Columbia yesterday, and splurged a bit to purchase this one.

It celebrates both the Appalachian Trailthe longest hiking-only footpath in the world, running some 2200 miles, from Maine to Georgia – and the 50th Anniversary (2018) of the National Trails System Act; a portion of the proceeds (5%) go to support our National Scenic Trails, so I can use that to help justify the purchase!

Pictured with my digital indoor-outdoor thermometer (the “outdoor” portion of which isn’t working again, darn it!) and an assortment of pocketknives.


Side note: I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t notice until just now that REI was sponsoring a hike at Catoctin Mountain Park (just across Route 77 from Cunningham Falls State Park, where I used to work, and a beautiful area of the state) today… until I saw that it had been canceled! So now I don’t need to be disappointed. I do need to get out to that area again, and do some hiking, though!

90% of plastic polluting our oceans comes from just 10 rivers | World Economic Forum

Workers clear garbage at the bank of Yangtze River in Taicang, Jiangsu province, China, December 23, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA. - RC1EC841D900

The world has become increasingly alarmed at the amount of plastic in its oceans. But where does all this plastic waste come from?

Source: 90% of plastic polluting our oceans comes from just 10 rivers | World Economic Forum

Here’s a hint: not from us.

Not if by “us” is meant the United States, or the West in general.

Plastic in the ocean is a major problem. As this article points out, “more than 8 million tons of it ends up in the ocean every year. If we continue to pollute at this rate, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.”

That is not just hype, and it is not something we should take lightly, especially if we care at all about this good Earth and its future (not to mention our future, on it). But here’s the thing: plastic straws in California – or anywhere else in the U.S. – are not the problem. We are not, by and large, the problem.

That’s not to say we couldn’t be doing a better job of disposing of (or, preferably, recycling) our plastic waste than we are; but for the most part, we’re not doing badly. So where does all that plastic waste come from?

Asia, primarily, and Africa.

According to the World Economic Forum, and recounted in the linked article and elsewhere, 80% of the plastic waste that makes it into the world’s oceans gets there via ten rivers: eight of them in Asia (including the storied Ganges and the Indus in India, and the Yangtze and Yellow in China), and two (the Nile and Tiber) in Africa.

Interestingly, this story came out this past summer. But how much attention has it received from the mainstream press? Little to none. Continue reading “90% of plastic polluting our oceans comes from just 10 rivers | World Economic Forum”

The Glories of the West: “This is Germany,” from Love Germany

The glories of the West, as expressed in Germany! Need I say more…?

Okay, I’ll grant you, I’d have been happier if they’d used more glorious music than the modernistic electro-pap in the background… can’t have everything, I guess! 🙄 😏

Dan Gibson: SOLITUDES – The English Country Garden | YouTube

I have loved Dan Gibson’s Solitudes series of albums – I originally had a few of them on cassette tape, back in the day! – of nature sounds, with or without music, for a very long time (as the above would suggest).

And I am, after all, “The Anglophilic Anglican” – my love for England, the English countryside, and English country gardens, should go without saying! But despite listening to my first Dan Gibson albums back in the early 1980s, I had not until this very day realized that he had one devoted to “The English Country Garden.” Very cool!

I recognize a few of the bird calls – most poignantly, for me, the cuckoo, which I was delighted to discover really does sound exactly like its name – from my time living and studying in Ireland, in 1990. So lovely to hear it again!

West Rise Junior School – Teaching young students resilience, in the out-of-doors

“If kids never step out of their comfort zone, how are they going to learn resilience?”

— Mike Fairclough, Headmaster, West Rise Junior School (Eastbourne, UK)

Not sure if I shared this last year, when it first appeared – if not, I should have! If I did, it’s worth a re-share. As I wrote at the time:

What, you mean there’s a school that’s actually teaching children where real food actually comes from – as opposed to magically appearing, wrapped in styrofoam and plastic, at the supermarket? Good heavens! In fact, the whole program sounds absolutely brilliant.

This amazing state school in the UK teaches children from “a varied demographic” – most of whose families are on various forms of social assistance – how to shoot, hunt, dress and cook the game they take, make bows, build fires, and otherwise function effectively in the outdoors.

The video shows them gutting squirrels, plucking pigeons, splitting wood for the fire with a mallet and fro, and cooking and eating the proceeds.

“The most dangerous thing you can do to a child is to not expose them to an element of risk and danger,” says Mike Fairclough, Headmaster, West Rise Junior School, who adds that “if children are excited about coming to school, if they’re being inspired and enthused by being outside, then that has an impact back in the classroom.”

The school gets the best exam results in the area, and won the 2015 T.E.S. Best School of the Year award, according to the video. “Teaching the children to shoot is controversial,” the video notes. “But the school argues it teaches discipline and responsibility.”

“The cotton-wool culture of Britain has got a little bit out of control,” Fairclough comments, referring to the modern desire on the part of many – schools, parents, media, etc. – to wrap children up and insulate them from many of the realities of life. “It’s only really peoples own sort of limiting beliefs, and a few media myths that people have invested in, which have stopped children from having these sorts of activities.”

Here’s an article with more information (despite the rather absurdly breathless style in which it is written).

Kudos to Mike Fairclough and West Rise Junior! You’re doing it right.

Mike Fairclough, head master of West Rise School, just outside Eastbourne. With some of the school's water buffalo
Mike Fairclough, head master of West Rise School, just outside Eastbourne, with some of the school’s water buffalo. Photo: Christopher Pledger