Saturday, November 22, 2008

Babes in the woods

I've always been an outdoor kind of girl. When I was a child, we had a black and white TV, and didn't get a VCR or video games until I was in junior high. My play time was spent outside, wandering around the neighborhood, making up games using sticks, rocks, and the few toys I had. I would run just for the feeling of running, search for interesting leaves and feathers and bugs, watch wild animals, and ride my bike until it became too dark to see.

It's always been important to me that my children learn to respect and enjoy nature and the outdoors. As an adult, a growing interest in backpacking and other outdoor sports solidified the importance of exposing my kids to the natural world. These days, so many children spend their leisure time in front of a television or computer, growing fat and unhealthy and disconnected from reality. People seem to live from house to car to mall to car to house, never stopping to feel the breeze on their cheek or to watch a flock of birds go by. People run from raindrops as if they will melt, and pass by beautiful flowers without a glance. Instead of climbing a hill to watch the sun set, they get on a treadmill at the climate controlled gym, with iPod or television blaring. They settle down onto their couches at night to watch the imaginary lives of others, rather than living their own.

I'm determined that my son will not squander his youth in front of the noisy box. He will know how wonderful it feels to hike through the woods, listening to the bird calls and the wind in the treetops. He will bate a hook to catch fish, jump in a leaf pile, climb a tree, and follow deer tracks across a snowy field. He will understand, through firsthand experience, the importance of preserving nature as it is, and limiting human encroachment. He will know our Mother for what she is, and hopefully feel the call to love Her and to care for the world She created.

NATURE, the gentlest mother,
Impatient of no child,
The feeblest or the waywardest,—
Her admonition mild
In forest and the hill
By traveller is heard,
Restraining rampant squirrel
Or too impetuous bird.
How fair her conversation,
A summer afternoon,—
Her household, her assembly;
And when the sun goes down
Her voice among the aisles
Incites the timid prayer
Of the minutest cricket,
The most unworthy flower.
When all the children sleep
She turns as long away
As will suffice to light her lamps;
Then, bending from the sky,
With infinite affection
And infiniter care,
Her golden finger on her lip,
Wills silence everywhere.

~ Emily Dickinson

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