Mother’s Day is here. A good time to reflect on the joy and love our mothers gave us – the mothers we are, and the mothers around us. My mother was an amazing person. She gave birth to seven children and did her best to raise us to be intelligent, successful, happy, moral individuals. She also instilled in each of us a love for nature and the outdoors.
When I was 12 years old, we bought a farm near Weston, Missouri. The first thing my mom did was walk us all over that 160-acre farm so that we could get our bearings. It was a wild place with wild plum groves, blackberry bushes, long grape vines reaching far into the trees, frog ponds, and rambling hills and hollers.
We would pick buckets of blackberries and make blackberry jam, enough for a family of nine to eat until the next summer. After several years of jam making, mom extended her skills into wild plum jam and baking her own bread for all of that jam. We chased frogs, wondered at butterflies, and marveled at beautiful birds and snakes. Mom had a plethora of field guides, and we would look up the species we did not know. We all became good naturalists with Mom leading the pack.
In winters during snowstorms, Mom would anticipate the power going out (which it always did) and she’d begin making a big stew in advance. By the time the power went out, the stew was on the fire in the fireplace and we’d all be gathered around Mom while she was reading to us out of a favored book: “The Little House on the Prairie” series, “The Little Peppers and How They Grew,” “Crazy Horse” and on and on.
Just a few days ago marked the fifth anniversary of the passing of my mother. My brothers and sisters are now all over the country with just a few of us still in the area, but we remain a tight-knit family. One brother sent an email detailing the things he missed about our childhood; each of us responded in turn with our own missed memories. We knew that our mom was at the heart of almost all of these wonderful, fond experiences.
If you read this column with any regularity, then you might know I have three children and raised them on my own for 15 years. I tried to glean the best parts of my mother and replicate what I learned from her. I took my kids camping, fishing, canoeing, and hiking, nurturing the spirit and love of nature in them.
My children are all grown with their own children; all are taking their children on nature experiences. They have bird-feeding areas in their yards, take their children to nearby parks, and just generally go exploring.
It’s never too late to instill a love of nature in your children, or even in others’ children. Create a lifetime of memories and help some youngster grow with the outdoors in their soul. Your soul will grow in the process, too.
Reach Lynn Youngblood at TheGreenSpace@sbcglobal.net.