It wasn’t exactly Wordsworth, but it’s probably the nearest she’ll get.
“I thought,” said my mother, who thinks a cellphone is something for a special occasion but who has recently learnt to attach photos to emails, which she now does all the time, “that you’d like to see these lovely daffodils.”
And there they were, a whole field of them, under a blue, blue sky. There they were, “beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze”.
I’m not sure that you could really say they were “continuous as the stars that shine”.
I’m not sure that I could say, as I gazed at my computer and then back at the column I was trying to write, that they made me think that I “could not but be gay”.
But they did remind me that there’s a whole world out there beyond the bricks and concrete, a world I’d almost forgotten.
It’s quite easy, if you live in a city, and don’t have a garden, or a garage, or a jerry can, or even a watering can, to forget that quite a lot of the world is green.
It’s quite easy, until you see a sudden cloud of blossom in a street where you hadn’t even noticed there were trees, to forget that there are things called seasons, which aren’t just to do with clothes.
It’s quite easy to forget that there’s a whole world beyond the one we’ve made that doesn’t revolve around us.
An awful lot of children don’t forget it, because they never even knew. More and more of them, according to a new report, are growing up without any knowledge of the natural world.
Less than 10 percent now play outside in the wild. Half have been stopped from climbing trees, a fifth from playing conkers.
And the number who go to hospital after falling out of a tree is less than a third of the number who go to hospital after falling out of bed.
The report says parents, teachers, health professionals and conservationists should work together to make sure that children who never get to build a den, or climb a tree, or pick a flower, now do.
It wants them to join together to turn “cotton wool kids” into free range children.
It says children are fitter, and healthier and happier, when they play outdoors. And when outdoors isn’t just a street.
I’m sure they’re right. I’m sure that getting children into fields, woods and farmyards is yet another thing to add to the list of things we need to do for our children, a list which already seems to include things like getting their parents to give them breakfast, and getting them out of 11 years of school able to write their name.
But if even those of us who did make dens, and were forced to go on walks in the rain, rarely get to see a blade of grass, those efforts might be in vain.
When whoever it was invented the computer, he probably didn’t realise that this miraculous machine (which would turn our lives, and work, and world, upside down) might also be a reason we rarely saw daffodils we could touch. He probably didn’t think that many of us would spend our days hunched over them, and quite a lot of our evenings too.
And when the web was invented those involved probably didn’t realise the worlds it would open up might sometimes seem more real, and more interesting, than our own.
They probably didn’t think that it might make us spend more time sitting down. And more of our time indoors.
Nature, according to all the studies, is good for us.
Spending time in green spaces makes you more healthy and less stressed. It lowers blood pressure, reduces risk of cancer. It makes you fitter. It makes you thinner. It makes you stronger. It can reduce violence and cut crime.
When the Romantic poets wrote about nature, they didn’t talk about blood pressure or stress.
They talked, as Byron did, of the “pleasure in the pathless woods” or, as Wordsworth did, of the “appetite” for “the tall rock”, and “the deep and gloomy wood” that had “no need of a remoter charm”.
They talked about beauty. But they also talked about “fast-fading violets” and the “light wind” that “lives or dies”.
The thing about the daffodils in that sun-drenched field or the blossom you pass on the way to work, or the magnolia in that little square just round the corner from the office, is that they bloom, and then they die.
The thing about nature is that it reminds you that you do, too.
We need, particularly when there seem to be a lot of things to worry about, to be reminded that good things pass, but so do bad.
We need to remember that the things that keep us awake at night seem less important when we look down from a mountain, or up at the stars. We need to remember that the world is big, and we are small. – The Independent