As part of caring for our planet, I am introducing my toddler granddaughter to the nature of things.
We take walks often to see what we can see.
As we pass rows of driveways, cars, houses, trash containers, utility boxes, iron fences and paved streets, we focus on the little patches of grass along the sidewalk.
Look! Here is a dandelion!
“Isn’t this a beautiful bright yellow flower? These little yellow petals will dry and form white tiny feathery puffs, that the wind will blow to make more flowers. This little plant gives us wonderful things. Its leaves can go in a salad. You know how you take your vitamins? Well, they have vitamins that are natural, like vitamin A and K. There’s more vitamin K in these leaves than in the broccoli that you love. They also have a wonderful amount of iron. This is not the iron Grandmom uses on the clothes she takes from the dryer, but iron from plants helps give us energy to be able to run and play. There’s a lot of vitamin vitamin E and C, too.”
As we enjoyed the upright stem reaching to the sun, I silently reflected on the pharmacologic benefits of the plant. Empirically this little “weed” has been used effectively for spleen and liver complaints, hepatitis, indigestion and anorexia among other maladies. It’s phytochemical properties produce diuretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic, antioxidant,anti- coagulatory, and anti-hyperglycemic effects. It also serves as a prebiotic, a non-digestible food ingredient stimulating the growth and/or activity of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system.
This is a Clover!
“See, here’s another little flower. It’s called clover. Say “clover.” Bunnies love to eat clover and bees make clover honey. Clover helps to make the soil better, too. It helps put something that helps to make the leaves green and plants to grow big and strong. (nitrogen) When we eat clover or drink it in a tea, we get many vitamins and minerals. It helps with pain on the inside of our bodies and has other wonderful healing abilities. What a pretty flower it has!”
I silently thought about the isoflavones of clover, the estrogen-like effects only at very small amounts, which have been shown to decrease menopausal symptoms as well as having a positive effect on vaginal cells and triglyceride levels.
Wow! Look At This Anthill!
“Here’s an anthill. Wow, there are so many little ants. Get closer to see them. They are so busy; aren’t they? They are going outside to look for food, and coming back home to share it. That little hole is their front door. Ants are hard workers and are able to lift heavy things when they work together. Let’s put a small blade of grass over the opening and watch how they work to take it away. Look! Look they quickly moved it!
And so it goes….
Little children appreciate the beauty of things when pointed out and taught to them. They see things with appreciation, wonder and awe. Somewhere along the line, civilization has lost this appreciation. Plants become a nuisance– obnoxious weeds to be obliterated with poisonous chemicals since they ruin the stilted area called lawn that lies in small patches amidst the cement, plastic, and metal edifices.
It’s long overdue to identify the perilous course that modern-day living has brought upon us, and literally, wake up and smell the roses. Until we recapture the vision that all things in the outside world have and serve an important purpose, we will continue to deforest, cause extinction, blast with poison and otherwise obliterate the very surroundings that sustain life. Enjoy your conveniences, but not at the expense of real beauty. Maybe it’s time to take a little trek into the rainforest to recapture this.
“Youth is happy because
it has the capacity to see beauty.
Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”