Sitting here today, watching the southern hemisphere spring emerge, I started thinking of the leaves changing, flowers budding, things growing just as my young baby is growing before my eyes. I thought of my trip back to Boulder last summer and how I plucked some leaves to steal back with me to a wintery Chile in hopes of remembering the Colorado summer. I thought of how I used to save all my flowers from high school, upside down bouquets dry and dusty long after the holidays and dances they represented. I thought of the huge Chilean aromo tree that was in full blazing bloom when our Lil’ Flower was born nearly four months ago. I wanted to go back and pick leaves from the day she was born, save them in a book, a keepsake of all that was happening in nature when she entered the world. I can’t go back, but I can start now (and I will!).
In an age of digital photography and the felt sense seemingly becoming less and less connected with our memories (we used to pick up and touch photos, watch them fade a little, flip them over to remember the exact date scribbled in our own script or that of our mother), having keepsakes you and your child can touch for a lifetime to come seems a special gift. With this in mind, I’ll be keeping special pieces of clothing, locks of hair and other little things in a box for my babe – a sort of memory hope chest. And I’ll be saving leaves. As the world grows more and more digital, I want my children to always be able to hold pieces of their lives in their hands, not just see it on a screen.
Here are a few ways you might also make the greenery around you a way to mark precious times with your children.
Marking Family Travel
Whether from the big oak of your child’s favorite park across town, or from the Banyan trees of northern India, plucking the keepsakes around you can be a fun way to mark where you and your family have been in the world. Think special and mundane; the tree outside your guesthouse, the gardens of an architectural attraction, the path to a train platform, heck even the topiaries of Disney!
Capturing Special Moments In Time
The birth of a child is a great time to collect a few things from nature. They will have been breathing the same air that you and your child were when you first met. After that, there are many sweet and obvious developmental milestones. First laugh, first tooth, first steps, first communion, high school graduation – the list really is endless. And of course, flowers and plants that are gifted your child can be included, too.
Keeping the Passing Seasons
You may consider simply collecting a leaf or two that represents or simply marks the seasons as they pass. Right now, I’ll take a few things to mark Lil’ Flower’s first spring. I’ll do the same in the summer, autumn and fall.
To keep these moments safe, consider investing in a big, heavy, hard-bound artist sketch diary. This will act as an instant leaf and flower press, and give you clean white pages to note your adventures, details related to the leaves and their coinciding special moments, etc. You can stick in photos and whatnot to increase the memorabilia and even go all-out curly scissor scrapbook on the job. You may also simply want to buy or make a flower press and stick a little note in with each one. When your child has grown, you can gift the press knowing that he or she may want to do their own special things with the contents, or just leave it as is for future generations.
Personally, I’m planning a combo approach, a flower press and notes to be scrapbooked much later when my child (children?) is (are?) older (i.e. when I have more time, ha ha).
A few places to pick up supplies on my favorite shopping site, Etsy.com:
Flower and leaf presses
Handmade journals and scrapbooks