Monday, May 26, 2008

One Small Square

It's hard to see this picture very clearly, I agree, but I'll describe it to you, if you like.

This was one of the things we did for the local Science (and other stuff) Celebration, organized by some friends of ours. It was inspired by the One Small Square books, which we happened upon last year and were quite taken with. (I'm giving the link for this book because the Canadian link shows the cover of the book) When we were discussing what we might do as our science entry, I suggested this, and initially Max (the Skeptic) said "That's not very interesting, I mean, just how much can one little area in your garden change in a month?" Now that remark, I feel compelled to point out to those of you who do not know the obsessed to the point of zealotry gardener that I am, was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. How much can the garden change? Hello? Have you not been watching me obsess over the plants for the past, uh, 11 years of your life? I felt like saying, but being the relatively mature adult that I am supposed to be am, I repressed it and instead used that old chestnut: "Why don't we try it and find out?"

And so we did.

Here's the first post I wrote about our initial attempts.

We took pictures of the garden from where I thought I'd taken the last one the exact same position each week.

We shooed Toffee out of the square.

We drew pictures of the plants and went to our botany books to identify them.

We shooed Toffee out of the square.

We sat quietly and watched the various birds come and go in our small square. Max made notes of what we saw, being the keen birder that he is.

We shooed Toffee out of the square.

Mostly we enjoyed watching the garden change over the six weeks or so that this project took. I found it so therapeutic that whenever I felt the vague rumbles of Grouchy Mum, or the mutinous mutterings of the Greenridge Enfants Terribles, I'd shout "Let's go check the small square!" and we'd all race outside, excited and delighted for the most part. And even if the kids we weren't so excited and delighted with the change of venue, by the time the kids we had been outside for twenty minutes they we were more often than not infused with enough fresh oxygen to cheer them us up until it was feeding time at the zoo lunch time.

And then it was time to put it all together into a Presentation. We took a colour photocopy of the book cover, altered it slightly, and then mounted the photos and made detailed sections of what the kids had seen. Max did the bird drawings, FDPG did the insect drawings, and Dominic did the Silly Comments (which sustained us in the wee hours). We included a photo of Toffee sitting in the square, seeing as how he'd done so much of it (and convulsed the kids each and every time he'd done so). And when they'd finally finished it, they were quite thrilled with themselves.

And lo and behold but only yesterday Max said to me, apropos of nothing "Wow, it's amazing how much the garden has changed in just a few weeks, isn't it?"

I tell you, it warmed the cockles of my heart to hear that. Sometimes these things are worth the effort.


shaun said...

Oh wow, I love that idea. And I can't wait to look for those books at the library!

sheila said...

They ARE great books. We've really enjoyed them. Our next idea is to do it with a streetcorner, now that we're unlikely to move again (well, at least in the near future). It would be cool to see a streetcorner change over the years.