Have you made New Year’s resolutions for the year ahead? Here are some you might consider making.
Use less plastic in the year ahead. The internet has plenty of tips on how to easily achieve this.
Watch buds burst. Gather some twig clippings or pick up some budding branches on a winter’s walk and put them in water when you get home. The buds will burst open after a few days in your warm kitchen. After the long cold winter they serve as a powerful symbol of change and renewal. The joys of spring are in this way shared with children; the scaly coverings of the buds begin to split in front of their eyes at the kitchen table, revealing folded, fuzzy leaves. Slowly the leaves will grow in size. What species of tree or shrub did you bring inside?
Go wild food foraging. This is a skill for life and one that we’ve mostly lost. You’ll start appreciating plants that you previously considered mere weeds. Edible wild plants haven’t been intensively grown and shipped or flown to us from the other side of the world. They’re therefore not only nutritious, but represent the most sustainable food we can get into our bellies. It’s easy if you know what to look for and where to find it. So either arm yourself with a good book like Wild Food: A Complete Guide for Foragers by Roger Phillips, or take one of the many introductory courses that are run all over the country to get yourself started.
Enjoy the Dawn Chorus. Every May groups of people rise ridiculously early, dress warmly, pack some coffee, tea or hot chocolate, and head to a local woodland to witness the dawn chorus. It starts off with just one bird, but soon hundreds are singing their hearts out. Your local Birdwatch Ireland branch will no doubt be organising such an early-morning outing this year.
Depending on how much room you have, plant a native tree or sow some seeds. Consider it your legacy.
Go for walks on the wild side. Children need to be outside if they are to grow up to cherish and protect the natural world. This year take the kids to nature reserves and places where communities have succeeded in protecting threatened habitats for the future. The people that work to protect these places, often promote their sites for educational purposes. One of my favourite of such places is Abbeyleix Bogin County Laois. Its story is worth telling the kids: this beautiful area was going to be destroyed, but a community fought to protect it.
Visit the National Botanic Gardens. It’s lovely to stroll through this oasis of calm in the city. If the weather turns against you, you can always shelter in the warmth of the beautiful Victorian glasshouses. If you’re taking kids along, bring magnifying glasses. They can use these while they’re wandering through the wonderful array of flowers on display there, particularly the orchids. Through a magnifying glass all component parts of a flower become a kaleidoscope of otherwordly beauty. It is utterly absorbing.