“Childhood might be the time when connection with place is fiercest. As we grow up, the adult and the quotidian envelop us. Often, we set aside more than just our childish things: we vacate our childhood world,” from The ecology of Pooh, by Liam Heneghan.
This article grabbed my attention this morning; hopefully, it will yours as well. I have excerpted sections below that particularly spoke to me. But do click the link and read it all the way through. It is thought-provoking and relevant to us all.
“Since a person’s attunement towards nature is most often determined by youthful encounters with place, that which is most delightful to us in nature as adults is that which we remember from our youth. Thus, the landscapes of our adulthood, whether we have moved 300 miles or 3,000, tend to remain somewhat unfamiliar to us and, as a consequence, difficult to understand, much less to love. This is one of the neglected consequences of the great transplantation: I call it the Uncanny Landscape Hypothesis. Does this make it difficult for us to care for the landscapes in which we find ourselves, whether pristine, managed, or restored? Perhaps more positively, do we need new tools — tools of initiation, imagination, and empathy — to fit into a landscape that is new to us?
That we can read Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) and Disney’s later adaptations through an ecological lens at all is a testament to the fidelity with which both Milne and Shepard, his illustrator, reproduced the landscapes of Ashdown Forest in Sussex in which the original stories were set. The Pooh stories captured a cultural landscape at a time when its human and natural elements were felicitously combined, as well as the special, intimate relationship between a child and that landscape. It is very clear that the boy (based on Christopher Milne, the author’s son) loved his bear, and loved the landscape in which they had their escapades.
The connection between children and nature has taken on considerable urgency in recent years. Evidence is accumulating that access to outdoor experiences is vital for children’s physical and mental health. Continue reading