When our oldest daughter started devouring the Spiderwick Chronicles, we dove in right alongside her. I was particularly riveted by the way Arthur Spiderwick’s office was depicted, all rife with leather-bound field journals and specimens and glass cloche domes covering interesting objects.
It wasn’t the series that kicked off this interest, I’m afraid: it’s long-standing. A magazine article years ago (which I’m disappointed I can’t seem to locate) introduced me to a New England home with a driveway covered in autumn leaves and rooms filled with relics of nature.
As for me, although I dragged (ahem, still drag) all manner of outdoor objects into the house, I was pretty terrible in science classes, with the exception of geology for some reason. Still, it must be the apparatus and accoutrements of the profession that attract me. Fortunately, I married a biologist and chemist who is also an impressive self-taught naturalist. I give him a hard time, but I secretly love that he can name every tree, native species of plant, bird and mushroom we encounter in the Ozarks.
Back to the nine year old: I recently found in a place of honor on her bedside table a squashed, petrified lizard she acquired (already expired) at my parents’ house last October. And as for the toddler: her pockets are forever full of rocks and as I type this she is examining an ant at close range. And I’m pretty sure their Dad will ensure they can each live by the line from the Avett Brothers:
She knows which birds are singing – and the names of the trees where they’re performing in the morning.
I’m still just cranky that Fred got rid of one of my found bird’s nests. Phppptt. Like that’s a gross object to have in the dining room.
Since each of us seems to have our own miniature version of this nature hoarding tendency, I recently took inventory around our home and found the following currently on hand:
- Binoculars and magnifying glasses
- A behemoth pinecone
- Twig with Spanish moss from Savannah
- Myriad rocks and fossils
- A preserved tarantula
- A (replacement) bird’s nest
- The aforementioned petrified lizard
- Star charts and leaf presses
- A multitude of cloches, bug jars and nets
- One each: wasp’s nest, hornet’s nest
- Various twigs and bits of moss
- A leaf with some sort of interesting fungus
- Bug, bird, plant, tree, flower, leaf, scat, animal and mushroom guides
And, most importantly of all, a living cicada in a penny candy jar habitat on the dining room buffet. Soph is pretty convinced it will burrow down, move off with her to college and reemerge in seventeen years to live happily ever after (or four to six weeks) with her future family.
Chez Stephens is rapidly spiraling into some sort of creepy museum of artifacts and antiquities like Miss Havisham’s deteriorating Satis House in Great Expectations.
Arthur Spiderwick would feel right at home.
Image source/credit: The Graphics Fairy.
Our house is very similar! My son (age 6) is a born naturalist and always has been collecting his treasures. I knew it was his nature when aged 4 he classified his collection on his own. He has a lidded tray filled with shells, seeds, crystals, rocks, feathers and bones. This year he wanted his own test tubes and beakers for experiments for his birthday and he has been interested in fungi and bacteria and viruses. I have been a little more creative and learned to make faux specimens in lieu of us actually keeping mould in his bedroom. He has petri dishes with pretend moulds made from wool and felt. It fascinated me to see someone born with such a natural passion for something especially as in my mid thirties I am yet to discover that thing!