Spring has arrived with a bang and the vineyard is an explosion of colours, scents and sounds.
The children who had first come to know the vines as bare stumps in winter now walk through the rows with their tender new leaves and their perfectly formed miniature bunches of grapes (embryonic bunches). Another one for the magnifying glass…
The picnics now take place on carpets of wild flowers and under much prized shade.
The almond tree was the first to shed its blossom and is now laden with almonds in their furry shells. The children can reach the low-hanging branches and every week someone plucks an almond to taste it. But they’re still too bitter and are spat out in disgust.
The hum of the bees, who now venture far from the beehives, can be heard wherever we are, lizards scutter out of our way into the long grass, ladybirds let us lift them onto a finger before they open their wings to fly away, and the swallows are back in their nests. Daisy, our dog, lazes about in the sun and allows the children to climb on her and pull her ears, until a concerned adult runs over to indicate the proper way to treat a dog.
The much-anticipated warm weather is here, with all the wildlife that comes with it, and not all of it welcome.
Old fears of bee stings and dog bites awaken and with them real concerns of risks and safety. So, we inform ourselves and stock our first-aid kit and make it our mission to teach the children about everything “wildlife”.
We show them the pleasures and the beauty, but also the dangers and risks, and teach them that, if we approach nature with awareness and respect, we have nothing to fear.
Back at our shed by the ponds, the activity this afternoon, is to make butterfly finger-puppets. The children scribble and spray them with colors until they are satisfied. Then, with butterflies on fingers, they run around the garden trying to catch the real thing.