“...we can all make these rules and observe them at all times: never needlessly to pollute or destroy any part of Nature; never to exploit it selfishly; never to ignore it or to assume that we can live aloof from it; and always to realise that we know only the merest fragment about it.”
This is one of the books from my childhood Ladybird library. The vast majority of Ladybird factual books from my childhood were natural history books. I think natural history books may have been the only factual books I read as a child, unless forced to by school. I thought I wanted to be a vet, I was such an animal lover. I also loved natural history documentaries on TV, David Attenborough was a GOD to me. And the reason my parents bought a colour TV - yes, I am that old.
I loved the first page of this book, the idea that bears, wolves and beavers had once roamed the British countryside was so exciting. Although I am a Londoner by birth, my grandmother was a farmer's daughter and was never happier than when she was outdoors, I have inherited this love of the rural life. (Our move to Hertfordshire is only a short term thing in my mind, one day we will do rural-proper.) But as a child I thought that our weekly dog walks in the woods would be made all the more exciting by the presence of such large exciting animals as bears and wolves. Never thinking of the dangers of course.
Like many children I had a particular fondness for otters having watched the film Ring of Bright Water, and having read and dreamed of meeting Tarka the Otter. My daughter is equally smitten, amongst her bed time soft toys she has a otter named Ottoline.
Of course foxes are also very important to me. Townie foxes obviously have a lot more front than their shy country cousins. I saw more of the debonair urban fox living in central london than I see foxes now that we live in the countryside.
My grandmother bought me many of the Ladybird books on nature that I still own. She also gave me a beautiful old set of books on birds in Britain that I still have on a shelf in my room. They have wonderful colour plates of familiar British birds.
This Ladybird book was my introduction to many of the core ideas and ideals of the environmental movement, and at a pretty early age, it must have been significant to my lifelong interest in the natural world and conservation. With my own little foxes I consider it very important to give them access to the great outdoors with as much freedom as my slightly paranoid parenting can cope with.
We had a wonderful time in Wales last summer (no wait, it must have been the summer before, because we didn't really have one last year did we) with the little foxes spending hours combing rock pools for signs of life. It is amazing how long children can remain interested in a rock pool, when you think how quickly they can get bored of toys you've bought for them.
And we are really lucky where we live to have easy access to woods, fields and lakes. Only yesterday we spent the entire day outside at our allotment. The little foxes and their friends spent much of that time exploring a field that the allotment backs onto, in sight of the allotment but still with that sense of freedom and adventure that I remember from my own childhood. It's not always an easy balance, safety v freedom, but I hope that, along with all the other benefits of an outdoors lifestyle, I am giving my little ones a sense of ownership WITH responsibility for the world around them that will see them value, respect and protect their environment.
This post is part of Ladybird Tuesday started on the Being Mrs C blog, take a look at her posts here.
And the rest of Mrs Fox's Ladybird Tuesday posts are here and if you have a collection of Ladybird books, please do feel free to join in.