Having the grand kids visit while you are at camp in the summer is important on so many levels. It’s good to build family connections and memories of fun times together. In addition, exposing children to nature (woods, water, wildlife) is crucial to the future of our planet. The average American child suffers from a little known syndrome, Nature-Deficit Disorder.
Last Child in the Woods book cover (courtesy of GoodReads)
What a frightening concept: nature-deficit disorder. I remember summer days turning up rocks in the creek to find crawdads, and wandering through woods and pastures under the hot Kansas sun. Because of those experiences and my parents’ interest and encouragement, I care about animals, plants, and the state of the planet.
There’s a concern that children get too little time in nature these days. This results in nature-deficit disorder. Are today’s children missing all the relaxing time exploring nature? If their exposure to nature is television documentaries and carefully orchestrated trips to a petting zoo, will they bond with nature? There’s no question that electronic gadgets occupy too much of their time and has consequences beyond short attention spans and weight gain.
YouTube video on Nature Deficit Disorder and the importance of giving children time in nature.
Nature Deficit Disorder could result in generations who care little for the environment. That would be a truly disastrous situation. Here’s some reading for parents and grandparents about how to ensure children have the opportunity to be lovers of nature.
During the summer, I hear the black-capped chickadees chattering to each other in the New Hampshire woods. They nest in the birdhouse that we attached to a post that we can see from our cottage.
While building their nest, the pair fly in and out of the birdhouse without rest. Later, while feeding their babies, the parents alternate their arrival and departure carefully. Sometimes one will pause in a nearby tree until the other chickadee leaves the nest. It’s a treat to watch their comings and goings.
If you want to keep your summer memories even after autumn or winter arrives, you can add a chickadee pillow to your decorating. There are even cushion covers that you can update an existing throw pillow for a fresh look in the fall or for the Christmas season.
When I am in New Hampshire and Maine during the summer, I can’t help noticing how common French surnames are. To learn more about the reasons and the lives of the French-Canadians who settled in New England, I read We Were Not Spoiled: A Franco-American Memoir.
Lucille Ledoux narrates her parents’ story and then her own first 30 years to her son, Denis. He wrote these down and I’m so glad he did.
This memoir gave me insight into the life of my own Franco-American mother-in-law as there were many parallels to her life. Lucille’s parents left Thetford Mines, Quebec to make a life in Lewiston in southern Maine. So many immigrated from Canada in that early part of the century, that French-speaking communities sprang up around the mills where many of them worked.
Lucille tells stories of her school years and of growing up in a large family. The eldest of 12 children, she had to assume some of the care of the younger ones while she was still a child. It was a hard life, but families helped each other out and times gradually got better.
The story continues into Lucille’s adulthood and her marriage. The time includes the Great Depression and World War II where her husband was away in the war. I found it a most enjoyable read since I love these homespun memories. I wish more people would take the time to collect their parents’ stories and commit them to paper.
I like reading local titles when I’m somewhere like New Hampshire. Maybe you do too, so here’s a suggested title for you: Without a Map: A Memoir. I’ve read many memoirs about difficult childhoods, but the teen years could be tough too.
In Without a Map, Meredith Hall takes the reader through the events and feelings when a teen pregnancy changes her life forever. At 16, she’s thrown out of school, cast out by her mother, shunned by friends and neighbors and forced to give up the baby for adoption. It’s 1965 and her sheltered childhood in a New Hampshire village left her unprepared for finding her way in the world.
At the same time as her life falls apart, the 1960s bring changes and these affect her as well. Her feelings of shame and loss complicate her life and she drifts in and out of relationships and lifestyles while trying to find safe ground. I found it interesting how she found her footing and established a fairly normal life yet always felt the betrayal of her family and friends.
When her son reunites with her as a young adult, she agonizes further over her own betrayal of him when she surrendered him for adoption. She has to come to terms now knowing that his childhood was marred by an abusive adoptive father.
Reading her literate account of these events is sometimes painful, but the flow of language draws the reader on as her life unfolds.
Some years ago, we had 2 of these canopies that we put up over our bikes and kayaks. When it started pouring, both collapsed from the weight of the water that pooled on the top. Luckily no one was under them at the time.
In New Hampshire in the summer, all the lake and woods camps use shelters like these for outdoor dining areas or for shelter for their woodpiles and gear.
A sudden rainstorm caused these canopies to collapse (made by Caravan)
I contacted the manufacturer and they said they aren’t for use in the rain. When you read the fine print with the setup instructions, it does say that. Basically useless unless you want it for short-term use on a sunny, windless day. Unfortunately, the warning was not displayed on the box that the shelters come in.
Buyers aren’t aware that these are fair-weather canopies at the time they buy them. Because of this incident and the money we wasted on these useless canopies, I’m never buying another canopy with the Caravan brand name on it.
This happened a number of years ago and we’ve never had that problem with other canopies or gazebos that we’ve had. I see that the company has discontinued these. The reviewers on Amazon all reported the same problem with 67% giving it only 1 star, the lowest you can put.
The bent and useless metal pieces from the Caravan canopies. We did save a few metal parts to use as garden stakes, but most just went to recycling. Sigh…
They have a lot of rocks in NH. I guess that’s why they call it The Granite State. I made this casual comment on Facebook as I shared the photo below. It shows the jumble of granite boulders and rocks of the Lower Falls at the Rocky Gorge Scenic Area. That’s on the Kancamagus Highway (Route 112).
If you like experiencing history by walking in the footsteps of long-ago people, you will love Canterbury Shaker Village in New Hampshire. The national historic landmark includes guided tours, a very informative Ken Burns video on the Shakers, and a chance to wander through buildings steeped in Shaker history.
We visited there two years ago and despite a thunderstorm that left us a bit damp, we enjoyed the informative exhibits. It was a marvelous opportunity to see the rooms and buildings looking like the Shakers just stepped out for a few minutes.
There’s a peaceful feeling throughout so pause in each space from the meeting house, the old school, the infirmary, or the work areas to savor what their life was like.
Admission was $17, but I felt it was well worth the price. The video takes 1 hour. There’s a choice of the regular 1-hour tour or the 1 1/2 hour innovators tour which focuses on the inventions of the Shakers. Three of the buildings can only be seen if you take one of the tours.
I’d recommend setting aside a whole afternoon for exploring the village.