Teaching children to love ferns and other unloved things

A few weeks ago, I was walking in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight with my youngest son when his large clumsy puppy trod on a tiny fern with her big feet.

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I brought the little plant home and nursed it. It is now thriving in a little recycled sauce jar at home, serving as a reminder for me of that beautiful day in September.

And here’s an interesting thing about ferns: this little plant’s ancestors dates back hundreds of million years, older than dinosaurs! They were alive on earth long before plants that need flowers and cones appeared – ferns spread their genetic materials by primitive spores.

And here’s another interesting thing about ferns: most of the fossil fuel we burn are ferns and fern-like plants laid down in the Carboniferous period (300-360 million years ago).

Ferns, though not as stunning as later plants, are wonderfully resilient and have been there since the earth was young. We should help our children to grow eyes to see them…..I read these beautiful words written by Nicolette Sowder:

May we raise children

who love the unloved

things – the dandelion, the

worms and spiderlings.

Children who sense

the rose needs the thorn

& run into windswept days

the same way they

turn towards the sun ….

And when they are grown and

someone has to speak for those

who have no voice

may they draw upon that

wilder bond, those days of

tending tender things

and be the ones.

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