Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Attenborough Nature Reserve — recollections of childhood 1940's

When we were children life was much simpler as were our pleasures. One place we frequented was the Atten-borough Nature Reserve, only when we were young it was just a gravel pit where nature was busy creating beauty from the torn up ground. With the River Trent close by, water soon filled the growing holes, and banks seeded naturally from the vegetation that must have existed from long, long ago. Birds filled the air with their song and swans glided peacefully on the water. Wild flowers delighted the eye and scented our walks. At Easter our mother would ask us to get her pussy-willows (I can still feel their softness) and bulrushes that grew aplenty between the river and gravel pits. We would also find sweet wild violets growing in the woods. Such delight! I never lost my joy of visiting that place. When we were in our teens, my friend Brenda and I would go there, both to the gravel pits and the river bank. We once carried a wind-up gramophone the entire distance to play the Swan Lake ballet music, while we watched the swans and had a picnic. On one occasion we had a picnic in the pouring rain, just sheltered by one of our macs. Sometimes we were treated to pure delight when a group of swans took off — noisily splashing their feet along the water before lifting into the air in sheer beauty of movement. And, of course, the day would arrive when a whole family of swans glided on the water, fluffy signets carefully protected by mum and dad. Swans mate for life and are a wonderful example of parenthood.
Returning to those gravel pits after so many years, we found it had become the Attenborough Nature Reserve. So many wonderful things going on there and all free to the public. What joy to walk again in an area that brings back so many happy memories of childhood. Wartime years they may have been but those gravel pits are reminders of how nature can bring back beauty to what man can so easily make ugly. Now my sister and I can sit in the Nature Reserve cafe, look outside at the wild life, and recall our childhood memories of Mother and our Easter offerings gathered by the waterside.

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