Have you seen the list of 50 Things to Do Before You Are 11 3/4 from England’s National Trust? It’s brilliant.
I’m a big fan of the bucket-list approach to living. (We are steadily working our way through 1001 Children’s Books to Read Before You Grow Up. I plan never to be too old for anything in that book. I love the whole series.)
Give me a list and I itch to get ticking. Is it even possible to try 1001 Whiskeys Before You Die? There’s only one way to find out! It’s the journey and not the destination, right?
What I love about the National Trust List is that it is as much a starting point for infinite adventures as it is a finite list. It works for the task-oriented, but also for those who like to wander off the beaten path. It pushes you further into the wild, and it makes you open your eyes to the wilderness on your urban doorstep.
Middlest and I were walking through a ravine the other day, and he said, “People just see the danger in the wild. They don’t see the good things.” We started to name the good things. We ran out of ravine before we ran out of ideas.
I grew up playing conkers in England. You tie a chestnut onto a string, and then you try to knock your opponent’s chestnut off of her string. The enormous crispiness of those brown leaves, the prickle of the nut case, and the smell of weather cooling is forever part of my sensory memory. I don’t know why conkers isn’t popular in Canada, but because it isn’t, chestnuts are just another tree to my boys, and they probably could not name it. Chestnut, maple, oak: these are trees that I am confident I can identify in almost all seasons, but as Middlest and I were walking, I realized that I could not name nearly all of the trees we walked past. It awoke in me a desire to learn to identify all of the trees in our neighbourhood. They are so much a part of our lives, and yet we don’t know all of their names.
I’ve taken to carrying my tree guide to the park, to taking new routes with new trees, and while the kids play soccer, I wander around looking at the trees. Then they wander over and have a peek and help me to identify the leaf shape and find the right name.
And, lo and behold, we all have a name for the fragrant tree that brings us so much joy when it’s in blossom in June and July. Hello, Linden. So nice to know your name.