‘On my table’

Linking up with Amanda at Habit of Being – November prompt-a-day

I tried to have a seasonal nature table. Honestly, I did. You know, those little sacred spaces in people’s homes, usually covered with items like acorns, pumpkins and gourds, maybe an autumn leaf or two. There’s almost always a little Waldorf-inspired felt gnome and maybe even a red and white spotted toadstool.

For years I have walked into friends’ houses and admired their little gnomes, all white fluffy beards and pointy hats crouching wisely beside those Fly Agaric toadstools. Little felt leaves with white-stitched veins, maybe a felted acorn, possibly a wee wooden house for Mr Gnome to retreat to in the evenings (no doubt with a fireplace and a cup of cocoa). Ahhh, so gorgeous, so homely, so tidy.

Yes, I tried. I cleared a side table, lovingly draped it with a golden piece of cloth and suggested that we go on a nature walk. The children and I spend a lot of time outdoors together. We cycle, walk, meander, stomp and stroll. We crunch through autumn leaves and slide across icy puddles. We take our penknives and make walking sticks, leaf crowns and flower garlands. We toss pebbles into streams and float leaf-and-stick boats on puddles. We take the camera everywhere so we will remember our adventures. A nature walk is a Thing I Can Do.

nature walk

When we got home, my rosy-cheeked children stripped off their coats and boots. Then they each upended the contents of their bags onto the proposed ‘nature table.’ There were conkers, a morass of leaves, handfuls of moss, acorns scattered on table and floor, a mini-bonfire of lichen-covered sticks. No fluffy gnomes. No adorable poisonous fungi. It looked more like a compost heap than a nature table.

The children loved it. “It looks great!” they chimed. I nodded and smiled a slightly less enthusiastic smile. But I had to admit it did look rather wonderful: all this lovely stuff accumulated indoors, a sort of tangled mass of outdoor family exuberance.

The nature table stayed this way for weeks. Sadly, no gnomes moved in. They’d come to view the property, complain about the lack of cocoa and an en-suite bathroom, and never return. We were even shunned by the gourds and pumpkins (“We’d rather be in soup!”). But it was our nature table, unique to our family, and probably much more like our tousled-hair family than a tidy, homely tableau of nature’s bounty. And most important to me, it was kid-made and kid-loved.

Since the inception of the nature table, our walks always produce new finds. The four year old skips over to me me with broken poo-encrusted feathers or slug-slimy wet leaves and shouts joyfully, “We could put this on our nature table!” And I smile and say, “Wonderful! You can carry that!”

©Lisa Hassan Scott 2013.

Many thanks to Amanda for providing short daily prompts for writing and sharing them on Twitter with #writealm and on her WriteAlm Facebook page.

 

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A nature table… of sorts
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16 thoughts on “A nature table… of sorts

  • 13/11/2013 at 1:11 pm
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    Love your post! You are great at building memories for your children. Treasurable moments!

    • 13/11/2013 at 1:24 pm
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      Thanks for that Mom, and I hope you have a wonderful day today! xoxo

      Love,
      Lisa

  • 13/11/2013 at 2:29 pm
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    I love this, Lisa! We’ve had nature tables off and on, and I’ve pretty much settled on having bits of nature in the center of our dining room table–heavy on the beachcombing finds! Our challenge has not so much been uppity gnomes (although I’ve never had gnomes on our nature table, nor fungi) but toddlers and cats and now, space.

    Thank you for brightening my breakfast this morning!

    • 13/11/2013 at 9:05 pm
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      Glad you had a smile to go with your gluten-free cheerios, Amy. Those pesky gnomes– such *high* standards!
      🙂

  • 13/11/2013 at 2:51 pm
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    We had a nature table at my school when I was six and it was my favourite thing. We have one too, but it is a sort of nature, handbag, homework, hairbrush table and looks very different to how I see it in my mind. Powerful things little bits and pieces xxx

    • 13/11/2013 at 9:04 pm
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      And children love collecting them and looking at them (and throwing them at each other… but we won’t talk about that bit right now)…

      Thanks for reading and commenting Ang,
      Love,
      Lisa

  • 13/11/2013 at 4:41 pm
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    I am imagining the gnomes viewing the property with their little gnome real estate agents. Some are gracious, some are aghast. “You thought I wanted to live next to THIS?!”
    Great morning chuckle!

    • 13/11/2013 at 9:03 pm
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      Haha exactly. Location location location, Jen!

      Glad to have made you smile,
      Lisa

  • 13/11/2013 at 5:08 pm
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    it is clear that your family really enjoys and treasures the tradition of the nature walks. the table may simply be the visual cue to inspire a walk, rather than be the final culmination of a *project.*

    or maybe that can be *your* special contribution, if it makes you happy. i know it does for me. my children so enjoy our walks, too, but they have such different experiences from mine. by the time we get home, our bags are unceremoniously upended and it is with a common understanding that *my* favorite part is the arranging. i ooh and ahh over the discoveries they share with me along the way, and they delight in identifying the objects they found that i put on display.

    regardless, i sense that my family would enjoy your walks and table, too, because they are so representative of you. 🙂

    • 13/11/2013 at 9:02 pm
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      Hi Dawn,
      Thanks for commenting. I think the nature table thing is what you say– just a manifestation of the enjoyment we experienced on the walk. And because for me the process is more important than the result, I don’t really mind what it looks like in the end. The ‘getting there’ part was great.
      Love,
      Lisa

  • 13/11/2013 at 8:05 pm
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    kid-made and kid-loved is the best. also, your nature table sounds a lot like ours 🙂

    • 13/11/2013 at 9:00 pm
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      Glad I’m not the only one.
      🙂

  • 14/11/2013 at 3:04 am
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    Our nature table is like that too. Often most of the contents get removed and used for art or brought outside again. There are no gnomes on ours either. With a two and four year old everything gets scattered all over anyway.

  • 15/11/2013 at 4:39 pm
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    What a wonderful glimpse into your colourful, joyful and very real, family life!

    Thank you. M x

    p.s. I have yet to see one of ‘those little sacred spaces in people’s homes, usually covered with items like acorns, pumpkins and gourds, maybe an autumn leaf or two. There’s almost always a little Waldorf-inspired felt gnome and maybe even a red and white spotted toadstool.’ Perhaps they don’t exist in my locality though!

    • 15/11/2013 at 9:34 pm
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      Clearly I live in a more upmarket neighbourhood, Marija! 🙂
      Love,
      Lisa

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