Thursday, November 06, 2008
** (This post is vintage, but goes nicely with the "Crazy for Rocks" post. I've edited to update it a bit.)
I can remember when my little niece was a VERY little niece of only 6 yrs old, she had the great fortune of attending a Waldorf School. As her auntie, I was invited to "afternoon tea" when her 1st grade class hosted a visitors day. For visitors day, each little darling was asked to invite a favorite (we hope!) relative to visit the school, sit in on a class, and be served "tea" by the students. It was an impressive afternoon. One of the things that impressed me most (aside from all the chubby faces smiling back at me) was the Nature Table.
Miss Prairie, the idyllic Waldorf School teacher (don't you love that name!), had created for her students an eye popping, soul stirring Nature Table. In actuality, the students themselves had created the Nature Table because it was an altar of the branches, berries, stones, feathers, bird nests, nuts and more, that they had been collecting for weeks. Miss Prairie had a gift for thoughtfully arranging their collection on the table; the students had hand labeled their specimens (I loved the imperfect letters, the bold statements) and no doubt the research needed to discover just exactly what their treasure was made for an excellent assignment.
The Waldorf early education believes, among other things, in bringing nature indoors to the children and bringing the children outdoors into nature. These students have a "natural" curriculum; they spend a great deal of time communing with the wind, running in the leaves and working in gardens and on local farms. The Nature Table is a winning statement in each classroom. Recently I found out about Country Livings Nature Table Campaign in England where they are proposing a return to the tradition of the Nature Table in the class rooms of the public schools. I hope this revival also happens for our public schools.
So, now I am have the thought, "Why are Nature Tables just for children?" Wouldn't it be advantageous if every home had a nature table, whether children dwell there or not? - a place where you can gather what you found out in nature on that weekend day.
As I glance around my tiny place my eye catches the smooth black stones I brought back from Lake Tahoe.... the dazzling feathers dropped by the peacocks in my neighborhood....the acorns from the Shakespeare garden in NYC's Central Park....the chestnuts from an ancient tree in Santa Fe.
I do believe I have my very own Nature Table.