Since August 2008 a new nature tale, story or myth appears on this site every month.
Below you find more background information.
As a nature guide and storyteller I have always been enamoured of the stories, myths, legends and tales which have often been passed on by word of mouth for thousands of years. People look more closely and listen better when a plant or animal figures in a short story.
As a newly qualified nature guide I enjoyed telling a story about a plant or animal during an excursion by way of change. People will remember a plant or animal better through a story. A good story ensures that people are instilled with a sense of wonder; they look more consciously or they listen more attentively to the story of the animal or plant (the behaviour of the Wagtail or the small holes in the leaves of the hypericum perforatum (St. John’s Wart).
During the preparations I discovered how extremely difficult it is to find them: in a small booklet of nature tales bought in a book shop?; in a book of nature myths borrowed from the library? It is rare to come across them. Once in a blue moon you might find a collection on a market stall, often with a restricted edition, the remainder of which can only be found later by chance in an antiquarian bookshop. Moreover, book-hunting is not my favourite pastime, hence why I decided to start collecting the stories myself.
Because I am probably not the only forgetful nature guide, I placed the short stories I had heard and picked up elsewhere on internet, so that some fellow nature guides in Leiden could also use them. The first tale about the birch appeared in November 2003 and every month thereafter a new one was added. In time this resulted in a sizeable collection. To my surprise the stories were also exciting considerable interest. Moreover, the site was being added to the list of ‘favourites’ by people other than nature guides. From the many reactions I have received in the course of time, stories are apparently being used for a very wide variety of purposes: as a source of inspiration for artists; as interesting educational materials for schools; for collectors of old stories; for people wanting to know the story behind their name; for therapeutic reasons. But gardening groups and archaeological societies also write requesting permission to use the story about a particular plant or animal with a special association for them. All simply great developments!
Els Baars e-mail