A little girl, a beloved grandmother and chores to be done. I wanted to go and feed the ducks by the village stream but, alas, she was a busy lady. “I haven’t got time precious” she said. “But why don’t you take this little box and see what treasures in the garden you can find to put into it and then we’ll make a story with what you can find”.
This didn’t seem like a comparable adventure to a five year old but she handed me the empty box which still smelled of matches and I went off into the garden to collect. Looking back it is strange to remember this tender moment as a defining point in my childhood; a simple task which was to instigate a close look at nature that was to last a lifetime.
Being a very small matchbox, I concentrated on the smallest things I could find, I had to look very carefully: some marigold petals, seeds, a twig, a flower bud, a stemen, a daisy, an old rotten hazelnut, a leaf from the willow tree, a ladybird, a wing from a dead moth. When it was as full as could be, I shut this secret treasure box tight and hid it in the garden. In the imagination of a child in the 60s, these colourful treasures represented jewels for the queen, pirates gold or the magic potion to kill the wicked witch.
Looking closely and carefully like this is at the very heart of appreciating nature and so a life of collecting began….