Scout loves puddles, too. She sticks her snout into them, up to the eyebrows for preference, and roots out interesting things from the bottom. They get unceremoniously dragged to the surface and killed, terrier style, by a jolly good shaking. If I kick at something floating on the surface or flick water at her she pounces and bounces, yipping and growling with happy excitement. I feel sorry for the children being walked through the park by adults who carefully steer them around the puddles. What fun they are missing!
I’ve been thinking about the story I’m going to write for my dissertation and reading other people’s stories on similar themes. As part of my story takes place on a river, I read Minnow on the Say by Philippa Pearce. It was written in 1955 – 4 years before I was born – and feels like a different world. Eleven year old children earning money from a paper round; travelling the countryside by bicycle and canoe without adult supervision, but not until after they’ve finished their household chores. Taking packed lunches wrapped in sheets of paper and bringing home treasures in their handkerchiefs.
I’m not saying that was necessarily a better way of life, but sometimes I feel like modern children are missing something special. I understand that parents feel protective, but are the pictures on television as thrilling as those we see for ourselves? Can finding out about flora and fauna on the internet ever compare to finding a bird’s nest or watching a newt slip into a pond at first hand? What about climbing trees, padding in streams, building dens. They miss so much … and then I saw this.
After the dogs had finished investigating the den, we left the park and headed home. I had a huge grin on my face. For all those parents steering their offspring around the ‘dangerous, dirty’ puddles, there are still children who are out exploring and creating their own adventures. Am I foolish to find hope in this this small thing?