Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Thoughts on a wet morning

Honeysuckle on a wet morning
Tomorrow, if the weather cooperates (and unfortunately it appears it will not) will mark my first week of the new season of adventure camp. For some years now I have led groups of kids, 8-15 years old, into the forests around Roundtop for a bit of exploring. It’s the kind of thing that many of my blog readers probably did regularly when you were kids. You probably did it on your own, perhaps in a stream behind your house or over at grandma’s. Today’s children, consigned to living in suburbs and subdivisions, ferried from school to soccer, rarely get to do that.

Small groups of kids will hike down to a stream a bit less than a mile from the main camp. We will hop over vernal pools and get muddy and wet. We will catch crayfish and frogs, perhaps a turtle. Some will complain that the walk is “too long.” Some will be amazed at finding a crayfish. Some will jump right in and have caught several before their time is up. Some are more timid and will be content only to peer at the little lobsters that I keep in a bucket until we release them. If we catch a salamander or a millipede, I will show them how to let it walk across their hands.

These are all kids whose parents have the means to send them to camp for a week. Some will have traveled abroad or gone to the Grand Canyon, but I have yet to find any who know much about their own backyards or the forests near where they live. Most never get the opportunity to play outside on their own. It’s pretty sad, and it causes me no little amount of worry. I worry because their lack of knowledge of the natural world does not bode well for the stewardship of our planet when it is their turn at the helm.

We will be gone by then, those of us who grew up with our hands and feet in local streams, who haunted small patches of woods after school. The world will be theirs to do with as they will. It’s unlikely my efforts will make much difference in the long run, though it’s an effort I feel I must make regardless. To do nothing is to give up and surrender. And so I do what I can, trying to fan the flames of hope that perhaps it will make some difference to some child, on some day.


Scott said...

Amen, sister! Get those kids muddy (like we used to do on our own)!

I was struck by your image of wet honeysuckle flowers. There's Japanese honeysuckle growing throughout our woodlands (of course), and wherever it can twine around a spicebush stem and get up above the shrub canopy, it flowers profusely. I love the fragrance, but can't abide the fact that a pernicious non-native vine is flowering and possibly setting seeds--as if the forest weren't thoroughly infested already. So, while I have been conducting my breeding bird censuses over the last week or so, I have been cutting the honeysuckle vines and uncoiling the twining stem to free the shrubs (and prevent the honeysuckle from producing seeds). Plus, it gives me something to do when the birds aren't calling...

Carolyn H said...

Scott: Weather did not cooperate this past Thursday--tornado watch and all. It's one thing for the kids to get muddy, but a repeat of The Wizard of Oz we don't need!

Carolyn H said...

Scott: PA is supposed to have 7 species of native honeysuckle. I don't think I could identify all of them. The one I do know is the pink variety that looks a bit like a trumpet vine. There's several that are described as bush honeysuckle vs. the Japanese vine type. <ost of the ones I see at Roundtop are bushy, though some are the vine type, which I assume is the Japanese kind. Another is supposed to have yellow flowers. The ones I see here often have both yellow and white flowers on the bush--not sure if that's a hybrid or what.