An ode to my mother – passing down the love of nature generation to generation
Every Mother’s Day I buy my mom a flat of spring perennials for her to plant in her garden. Usually, it is accompanied with a handmade card and breakfast in bed. This is the first year that I will be wishing her a Happy Mother’s day from 500 km away. Since I won’t be able to make her breakfast in bed this year I wanted to reflect on how my mother’s love of nature has truly shaped who I am today.
My mother instilled in me a deep love of nature that was first passed down from her mother. My nana always used to say a red-breasted robin sighting was the first sign of spring. Gardening and listening to the sweet sounds of songbirds are both pastimes my nana shared with my mom. Bright red Cardinals and Blue Jays were my nana’s favourite birds, even if they ruined her sunflowers. I am grateful that my mother continued to pass on this love of nature to my brother, sister and me.
As a millennial, and having grown up in a medium-sized city, people are always shocked to hear that I grew up without cable television or that I had dial-up internet and no cell phone until I was 17. From a very young age, my mother taught us that time outside was a priority; we were instructed to not start our school homework until the sun went down and after school, we were not allowed inside until dinner was ready. Weekends were spent on bike rides along the Grand River or picnics and lawn games in local parks.
Growing up vacation always involved packing up the tent trailer and going camping, road trips to PEI, visits to my aunt and cousins in BC, family reunions in New Brunswick; if you asked my mother camping was always the best way to roam the country.
“Lots of camping memories. My wife and I are excited to take our two little ones camping with their Grammy & Papa.” – James Richardson
My mother would tell us stories of catching toads with her brothers, to this day she still gets excited when a new friendly toad comes to visit her in the garden or the pond at the cottage.
“Mom was like the boy who cried wolf, she would be outside yelling your name as if there was a huge emergency but really, she was just excited she saw a praying mantis” – Erin Richardson
My most cherished memories are of spending time in nature at my family’s cottage at Sauble Beach on Lake Huron. On brisk summer evenings we’d go to the beach to watch the sunset then walk the streets at twilight in hopes of seeing a rabbit or two.
Nature is the foundation of every single one of these memories and I’m grateful that my mother taught me that spending time with loved ones and spending time outdoors are the best ways to spend time.
This year, I instructed my father to buy her a flat of perennials from me to have on Mother’s Day and I’m sure we will celebrate with lunch in the backyard next time I go home to visit. Happy Mother’s Day Mom!