Over the weekend, I had the luxury of time. This seems an odd statement, as most of my weekend was dedicated to planning, presenting or attending sessions at Stalking Education in the Wild, yet—as I reflected—I realized those very sessions gave me a gift that my day-to-day woodland living and working doesn’t always provide.
As I checked the sessions off with each passing hour, I was bemused by the “lack of time” I had to present my information. Suddenly it was 2:30: time to channel Rachel Carson and head out for my session titled, “The Naturalists.” One early line of questioning was, “What is a naturalist? And what do naturalists do?” Answers were varied, from “not much” to “lots of scientific exploration”—and I realized that, in order for our children to become naturalists in their own right…they have to KNOW a place. And knowing a place takes time.
Rachel Carson didn’t have any more time than I do…in fact, with the fiscal and familial responsibilities she took on as an adult (she wasn’t married or ever had children of her own—but she supported many of her extended family throughout her lifetime), she probably had less. Yet the time she did have—prior to becoming a vocal environmentalist—was spent outdoors: wondering, writing, thinking, observing, and enjoying the natural world. And, if my telepathic abilities are correct, a great many of those outdoor experiences occurred when she was a child.
American architect Frank Lloyd Wright said, “The future of mankind is dependent on every human being intimately associated with a half acre of ground.” Richard Louv and others in the both the environmental and Children In Nature movement have demonstrated that in order to care deeply about the natural world you have to have spent time in a special outdoor place that is all your own. This sentiment is echoed by Louise Chawla:
The special places that stood out in memory, where people formed a first bond with the natural world, were always part of the regular rhythm of life: the garden or nearby lake or forest where people played as children, the summer cabin or grandparents’ farm that was visited repeatedly in the course of growing up, favorite hiking trails during the university years. In these places, people became comfortable with being out in the natural world, usually alone or with a small group of family or friends.
We are just as busy as Rachel Carson, and some of us may feel even more fragmented by the daily demands of our lives. Yet when I came back from my two hour walk in the woods, shocked and amazed by the tiniest bugs I discovered in my “Investigation Frame”, relaxed and calm in the face of feeding and putting two young boys to bed before my final session of the day, thoughtful and quiet within my own understanding of my place in this rather large universe, I saw the lovely simplicity of a quiet walk, or sit, in this place I am fortunate enough to call home.