Imperia is at an age where picking flowers is among the most wonderful things possible. When the spring dandelions were coming up, she wanted whole handfuls of them. Of course, the wanted whole handfuls of the daffodils and tulips that were springing up, too, not to mention any other kind of beautiful little thing growing in anyone else's yard or public place.
We had to teach her about what you could and couldn't pick, with varying explanations. Willow tried to explain that the fairies needed the flower petals to make dresses for fairy balls, while I, somewhat less magically inclined, explained that if we pick the flowers, they die faster and other people can't enjoy them.
So while the rogue flower-picking has waned, Imperia learned that people didn't care nearly as much about whether she picked random berries, leaves, stones, twigs, and soon these fell into the larger, but still treasured category of "natures."
Now every day, she has small gifts to offer: a woodchip from the playground, a pebble from the ground, twelve lovely blades of grass. These we accumulate in a small treasure box--a clear plastic container once for dried fruit.
This is adorable, no doubt, certainly when, at the end of her visit to her grandparents last week, she picked up a stone from the driveway, ran back to my mom and said, "Mom-mom, this is my missing-you stone."
On the other hand, it also means that we often have piles of dried leaves, handfuls of dirt, pebbles and other "natures" that show up: in her cubby at school, in pockets, in the laundry. One feels almost awful leaving those piles back outside, but they are frequently forgotten as soon as they are offered. I can merely hope that they are only making room for other treasures to be discovered, offered up, and taken. Bits of nature believed beautiful and valuable, if only for moments at a time.