Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Big and splashy? It's in the eye of the beholder

The ferns that make their home on Roundtop mountain appear to love this wet day/dry day weather going on here this month (or is it two months, now?). They are both numerous and lush, covering every bank or wet spot I can find.

Tomorrow will be my first day with this year’s crop of kids who attend Adventure Camp. I will take them on a hike into the woods and try to get them interested in the things we find along our way. Kids do better with things that are big and splashy rather than small and subtle. They will do okay with small, if it’s something they can touch. A fox crossing the trail counts as big and splashy. A bug they can hold in their hands is okay. A Baltimore oriole streaking through the forest doesn’t count. It might count if it landed on a low branch in open view and began to sing, but I’m not entirely sure about that.

They like eating the wild black raspberries that line the trail we will follow—but they aren’t ripe yet. Last year they liked the “green smoke” that erupted from a puffball when I tapped it with my hiking staff—but they aren’t up yet. Hopefully, we will find enough frogs and toads and other things to please them.

Ferns certainly aren’t high on their list, which is unfortunate because we will find so many of them along our trail. I will try and pique their interest to see the differences between the species of them. I will try and explain how observing small differences is how you learn to really look at what’s around you, how those small differences mean a lot. It can be a tough sell.

For me, everything in a forest is interesting—every tiny spore that pokes its head above the moss, every tiny plant, the quantity of nuts on a hickory tree this year. For the kids, almost nothing is as interesting as the video game at home. Exploring the outdoors on their own isn’t an idea that ever seems to cross their minds. Or perhaps it’s simply that they have no unscheduled time to themselves to even thing about things like that.

We speak a different language, these kids and I, though I work to bridge that wide divide between us. One day, they will inherit this world from us, and I hope they will come to understand and love its infinite pleasures and mysteries.


Sam said...

I read the last paragraph of this post and knew immediately your goal with the kids. Excellent!

Woodswalker said...

Keep up the good work. The kids may seem not to be excited by nature, but you never know. Sometimes something sticks in their imaginations, and the seeds of their experiences bear fruit later on.

Carolyn H said...

Sam, the kids and I had a great time! I hope something "sticks" with them.


Carolyn H said...

Woodswalker: The kids are having a good time. That's the best I can hope for right now.

Carolyn H.