Updated: Jun 7, 2020
Nature called me out again yesterday, and I was able to get up onto the Forest. What a magnificent place it is! It offers space and tranquillity, vistas and new corners to discover every time I go. And there’s something quite extraordinarily beautiful about this emerging time of year: trees coming into leaf; gorse at its freshest and brightest yellow; birdsong of a multitude of different species. But in spite of all those nature walks in primary school, no-one really passed on to me the gift of naming the birds I hear. Out with our grand-daughter’s pre-school group a few years back, though, I did learn from a leader to identify the call of the chiff-chaff. She’d learnt from her father, or was it grandfather?
I worked in education for forty-plus years and at the back of my mind was always Matthew Arnold’s dictum that we should pass on ‘the best that has been thought and said’. He was surely right. But how do we determine what really counts? I wish now I’d learnt early on about birds and birdsong, trees and their leaves, wildflowers and their astonishing beauties. And St Paul has a thought about this. Writing to Timothy he says: ‘continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it….’ How important it is to have the benefit of a wise and trustworthy teacher!