November 1, 2007

Opening Remarks by Moderator Tom Schaefer

For the Kids

If a child is to keep alive his sense of wonder…he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.” - from Rachel Carson’s The Sense of Wonder

I suppose the thing that I'm most proud of these days is being a grandfather. You can count on my pulling out pictures of the three grandkids if you were to ask about them, to be sure, but what I'm most interested in is taking them outside and showing them 'cool stuff.' Here in Ohio this time of year, that discovery takes place on a walk in the woods to look at color and to pick up leaves with interesting stories to tell. It also might include watching birds at the birdbath and listening to birdsong from the trees, trying to figure out just who it was who had something to say this late in the season. And this weekend it's off with the two grandboys to the local nature center to pick up birdseed for winter feeding. I'm just sure if we caught up with Rachel Carson on one of our outings, she'd give an approving smile and a wink.

When Rachel Carson comes to mind, I first think of her as a scientist. My initial exposure to her writing came in the late 1960s in a college biology class when we were assigned to read the newly published Silent Spring. Chilling it was. And a tough read for my science-resistant mind. Still, the book made an impact on me and was one of the factors, I'm sure, that has lead me to be a part-time activist for the Earth.

About that same time, Apollo 8 became the first manned space flight to the moon. I know I've read somewhere that the first picture of Earthrise taken from lunar orbit and beamed back home during that Christmas 1968 journey played an important role in helping those of us back home realize just how fragile Earth looks from even the short distance to the moon. I'm guessing many of you reading this can still visualize that photograph without resorting to a web search. And then, of course, came the first Earth Day just one and one half years later in 1970. It doesn't take an historian to tell us that both the Apollo program and Carson's Silent Spring, among other factors, had touched enough social nerves that brought many to take action to reverse the impact of development to flora and fauna alike on our island home -- our blue marble -- in space.

As a scientist, Rachel Carson has taught us that the health and viability of terrestrial ecosystems are things we need to care about. As an elective parent, she also taught us that sharing the simple and dynamic beauty of this planet with the next generation was also our responsibility. For her, it was a labor of love. As it is for Grandpa Tom. I hope it is -- or will be -- with you, too.

Care to post a story about sharing nature with a child? How about an idea on making a difference with kids in the natural world. We'd love to hear.

Tom Schaefer

November Reading Schedule

The Sea Around Us Field Notes Blog continues through December


Nancy said...

I live next to a forest and when my various grandchildren visit, I take them to the river near my house. I give them basic safety rules, and then, with absolutely no suggestions about what to do or how to play, I "turn them loose." Talk about instant connection! They all make a bee-line for the water and immediately they are splashing. They are rock-hopping. They are making castles and moats in the mud. They are building "dams" with sticks and branches. They are skipping stones. They are throwing sticks in the water to give the dog an excuse to swim. They are scooping up crawdads and tadpoles in nets. They are rescuing injured caterpillars. They never run out of things to do and there's no end to how long they can play.

I have tried testing their endurance to see how long they can last at the river. Sometimes I will say to myself that I won't be the first one to say it's time to go, I will wait until one of the kids wants to leave. Well, it has never happened. I have never been able to outlast them. It always ends up with me having to say it's time to go home, and then literally dragging every last one of them out of the river.

And even so, no matter how much they enjoy playing outdoors, I'd be willing to bet that given the choice between watching TV or going to the river, most kids would probably choose TV. Probably not because they actually prefer TV watching to playing in the river, but mostly because children don't understand "choice" in the same way adults do. I try to help my grandchildren make good choices. They know that in my house we never turn the TV on during the day. It makes "choosing" a lot easier.

Children are born with a sense of wonder and with any luck we can help them keep in intact as they havigate the distracting paths to adulthood.

Wild child said...

Great stories...

It is funny but when I was growing up in northern New York my brothers and I were known as the wild children who lived at the end of our little dead end street.

Not really because we were ill-mannered children, but because we preferred to be outdoors and out of sight of our parents.

Whenever we weren't in school, or in bed we were outdoors - almost year round. We lived on the shore of a river where it entered Lake Ontario and near an old stone quarry so there were always fish to catch, and forts to build. Much to my mother's dismay, we always found it more appealing to be chasing down milk snakes, or looking for rocks and fossils in the stone quarry than we did to come home for dinner.

My neighbors still tell stories of what they called "home in a hurry horn." When my mother expected my father she would always call out our names for us to come home and get washed up. Usually with no response. However, when my father pulled in - my mother would blow the old bugle horn which meant "you'd better get home in a hurry."

At that time, we didn't have cable TV, we didn't have cell phones, we didn't have computers, and we only had an ATARI and that was used only in winter when it was too dark to be outside.

Now that I am a parent - I am myself too worried about the dangers my small children might encounter if they are outdoors too much - not because of nature - but more because of not knowing what other people might do. I wonder if I will ever be able to accept letting my children have the freedom to explore their surroundings like I did.

fishing girl said...

This just takes me back to the summer days I used to spend with my Grandpa fishing. He and my Grandma had a place on Silver Lake in Angola, Indiana. My family would spend weeks at a time there almost every summer. Not a minute went by that we were not swimming, fishing or enjoying our surroundings. Fishing with my Grandpa was also a history lesson. He would tell me about the hog slaughter house that used to sit on the far shore of the lake. It smelled so bad, that part of the lake near it was nicknamed "The Stink Pond". Grandpa was glad to see it go. It was polluting the lake. Even though it had been gone for years, we were sure not to swim in that area of the lake.
Grandpa was always concerned that something was going on with the lake. He always said, and we noticed each visit, that the lake was changing. As kids, we didn't think much about the changes. My brother always said that it would be extinct someday. The fishing was always good and the water always clear. I can't believe how much time we spent in that water and how many fish we caught. I will never forget the wonderful times that I had with my Grandpa and my family at the lake.

My husband and I, along with the rest of my family recently spent a weekend at the lake. Though my Grandpa is not with us anymore, he was always with me when we were out on the boat fishing or swimming. He loved that place, and I am grateful that I was able to experience the beauty nature with my Grandpa. The lake is getting more shallow and the fishing is not so good anymore. Hopefully, the lake gets better. Someday I would like to share it with my children, and grandchildren. You cannot replace the memories you make when you are enjoying the outdoors.

Scout said...

As much as I love to be in the city there is always a big part of me that loves the wilderness. I remember when I used to be in the Boy Scouts of America. We use to go camping all the time and learn about the woods. I became a Cub Scut first because I was so young. I got into the Scouts when I was in the fourth grade. I can just remember waking up in the morning with the smell of a flames cooking breakfast and boiling the water for the hot chocolate. We use to stay at campsites for a weeend and learn how interesting Mother Earth really is. Our Scout leaders always had neat things set-up for us to do. We learned how to shoot a bow and arrow and a be-be gun. We also were taught the proper way to use pocket knives. They just let us kids be kids while exploring the woods.

Once a year at the end of our weekend, there wold be a ceremony in the woods. If you have achieved enough tasks to earn another badge then you get to crossover at the ceremony. When you crossover in to a higher Scout class you learn more about the Scouts and try to complete more tasks in your handbook so you can crossover next year. The higher class you are in the more advanced things you get the opportunity to learn. I really enjoyed that when I was younger.

Being in the wilderness has always been interesting to me. Eve now I like to go to this place called Charlston Falls. This is such a beautiful place to go. It is a reserve with trails to take you around their entir wooded area, there are so many interesting animals out there. The last time I was there I walked passed a guy who had a huge camera. He told me to look inside the lenze, because he had a great shoot of some owls. I find owls to be one of my favorite wildlife animals and the shoots were beautiful. The mother was just sitting there watching and protecting her babies. At the falls the scenery is just amazing. Whether you are on a trai, walking through the grass, or jut sitting on a bench, the reserve is peaceful. The most peaceful part of the falls is actually the waterfall. There is a bridge that you can walk across to get over the water or just sit on the bridge, look around, and enjoy the scenery. Listening to the water hit the rocks is music to my ears. It is important to expose young children to Mother Nature. There is a lot to be learned and explored in the woods and wildlife in general. I am mostly in the city now but I will always make time to vsit the wilderness and this natural earth.

H&K Freak said...

I am with Scout. I have always lived in the city but hungered for the woods and forests outside the urban sprawl. Though I was never a Boy Scout, I learned a few things from my father and friends about the wild. A lot of my hunger for wild animals and their habitats came from my uncle. My uncle is a veterinarian. He has always inspired me to learn new things about the different creatures from all around the world. He made it to be a game in which I were to try and stump him with certain animal facts. It was fun reading through the animal encyclopedias to test his knowledge.

Through these little games, I came to know and love the Amazon. I dreamt of going there to witness firsthand the biodiversity it offers. I became fascinated with the colors and textures of the plants and animals.

Of those creatures of the deep rainy forests, I found poison dart frogs. The complexity of their colors and patterns brought me to learn everything about them and eventually to have a few of my own to breed. I found that these amphibians were very complex in their social structure and truly care for their young. This is amazing to see in a mock rainforest environment that I have setup in glass cages around the house.

Now I long for the real thing. I wish to travel down to South America to see these little beauties in their natural environment while I still can. Everyday, thousands of acres of rainforest are being cut down or burned, leaving thousands of animals without a home. I just hope to get to this paradise before it is too late.

♥Vic♥ said...

When I was eleven my family went on a two-week long vacation across California. My mom, Dad, my brother (Gabe), and me traveled the hundreds of miles from Dayton, Ohio to Long Beach, California. I enjoyed every minute of our trip.

Our first stop in our trip was Long Beach. While there we went to "Long Beach" and spent the entire day at the ocean, jumping over crashing waves, boogie boarding, and surfing. I tried to surf but I just don't have the agility or balance!

Our second stop was in San Diego, California. One of the attractions we vistited was Sea World, our first activity we did was the dolphin encounter. One of the dolphins jumped over thirty feet in the air to touch a flag! It was really awesome, after the show I got to touch the dolphins and feed them. Gabe and I then went to pet the famous Budweiser Clysedale horses and went on the water rollercoaster. My mom almost peed her pants!

From San Diego we went to San Francisco and did a lot of the famous attractions. We started with going on a cruise ship under Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz, otherwise known as "The Rock." It was really neat to see where they kept prisoners fifty years ago. I got some great pictures and almost froze to death! The next place on our list to do in San Francisco was Pier 39 and Fishermans Wharf. The Sea Lions were a huge tourist attraction in San Francisco. My brother and I tried to imatate their barks we were only rewarded with amused looks from the people around us.

Hollywood was one of my personal favorites during our trip to Califronia. My family and I went to downtown and went window shopping because just a scarf in one of the stores cost on average about four hundred dollars. One of the streets crossing Hollywood Avenue was Dayton Drive. I got a picture to show all my friends from Dayton! The "Hollywood Stars" on the sidewalk were mostly people that I didn't know but I still impersonated them for my Mom.

The next stop, (my moms favorite) was Universal Studios. My Dad paid for the tour around the park and Gabe and I were astonished at all the movie stunts that the producers in Hollywood created. Such as the rushing waterfall down the hill in the movie "Big Fat Liar" and the crashing airplane in the TV show "Lost". Gabe and I then dragged my parents on the Jurassic Park roller coaster. We waited in line for almost an hour but, it was worth it! Our car went up, down, and around until my Mom almost peed her pants... Me too!

Last but definitely not least was the Redwoods National Park in northern California. This has to have been my favorite. I loved all the enormous trees, the tallest one was over 350 feet high! I am a big nature and outdoorsy person so Sequoia and Redwood National Park were really awesome. The way the sun filtered through the colored leaves and the spectacular sunrays that glinted through the trees and warmed my head and heart was breathtaking. As I looked around at all the scenery I could hardly belive how great God is that he created all of these wonderful works of art. My family and I got a great picture of us all hugging a Redwood, it will be a warm memory forever.

If any of you have ever had the chance to visit Redwood State Park then you know what I'm talking about when I say how beautiful it is there. This is a wonderful nature experience from my childhood that I thought I would share with you all.

Jonathan said...

I have lived in the country all my life and have loved the freedoms that my friends and I have enjoyed while growing up.
As far back I can remember I have wonderful memories of staying at my cousins farm and doing everything from exploring the woods for mushrooms and playing cops and robbers to feeding the animals as well as helping bale hay in the summers.

Back in those days I didn't realize how lucky I was to be able to live in the country. I learned many valuable lessons from growing up in the country that I may never have learned as easy as I did. One lesson I learned was how to work. Not all the farm experiences were of play, but also hard work, and because of that I learned to like it and to work fast and do my best at whatever I was doing.
Another memory that I have is going to my Uncle's ranch in southern Colorado. I instantly loved the land and the life style of my Uncle and other ranchers in the area.

There is an unexplainable feeling one gets when looking at the vast expanse of beautiful land or the awesomeness of the huge and powerful oceans or even the smell of fresh cut hay or a walk under the golden aspens of New Mexico. Even though I am not married yet, I have decided that I will always live in the country and will raise my children in one of Gods most awesome creations, the great, exciting, and marvellous outdoors.

Out-door girl said...

Although I do not have any children or grandchildren of my own, I do have my own child hood memories to fall back on. In terms of the person I have become, there is not a single doubt in my mind that my "out-doorsy" upbringing has shaped me inside and out.

My most prominent memories of growing up are fishing with my father and playing in a tree fort at the end of my dead end street. Almost every weekend, my family and our two dogs would walk to the river which backed up to our house to go fishing and play fetch. The dogs would jump in to the water making huge splashes, then paddle back to shore only to jump out into the water again. My father and I would cast out our fishing rods and see who could reel in the biggest catch. Still today, I love fishing. I go every chance I get and when I do go, I get a sense of clarity that is over powering. When leaving my fishing adventures I feel weightless and I seem to have forgotten all of life's troubles which were previously taunting me.

And of course, my tree fort extravaganza's with the neighbors, Katlyn and Todd are still fresh in my mind. The giant vines that cast themselves down from the tree tops transformed into our "beds" and "couches," and each of us claimed a certain part of the fort as our room. Katlyn and I would lay our blankets over various tree branches to form beds and swings for out baby-dolls, while Todd would go "hunting" for food, which usually turned out to be sour grapes from a vine in a neighboring front yard.

Now that I am grown, I often reflect of my child hood memories. Still today, I am outside every chance that I get. I often go hiking at a local reserve. I also take my neice, who is about two years old, outside. And as soon as she touches that grass, she's off! She runs up and down the hills, giggling when she tumbles from running too fast. She is picking up rocks and playing with the dogs. The hardest part is getting her inside, just like me when I was young.

I strongly beleive that when a child is out doors, their imagination comes alive. Their faces light up because they know there are endless adventures around every tree and river bend. Every parent should strongly enforce the idea of outdoor play. It shapes a child into a great individual, not to mention the spectacular memories the child will look back on when they are older.

Suzi Fischer said...

What a wonderful site.
I plan to visit more often.
It brings back memories of being
on my grandpa's farm in Wisconsin.
My children and I love to visit
nature and talk about it so you
can be sure we'll be checking in
with Rachel's web site again soon.

Anonymous said...

This brings back amazing memories of my childhood. I miss the days when my younger sister and I would go exploring in the woods behind our house. Being younger girls, we would always scream at the big spiders, but loved to pick up the toads and slimy creatures. Before my sister was born, I was more of an inside girl, playing with toys and watching t.v, and she's the complete opposite. She loves to run outside and get dirty. Exploring and playing outside with her helped me see the natural beauty in life and spend more time appriciating the small simple things.

Antonia Nicole said...

Over the years, people have pulled away from enjoying the many aspects of nature. I remember when i was younger I used to love being outside,because there were so many things to get into. It was also more relaxing than being in front of a computer or gaming system. I used to love laying a blanket out on a summer day and daydreaming about flying thru the fluffy clouds above.
When we stayed in N. Carolina, it was a huge mountain down the street from my house. My older brother and I use to see how far we could climb before we got scared. I use to also pick the mushrooms growing out the ground. Then me and my brother would have an all out fungus war.
I miss when we use to play in this creek, down the street from my grannie's house. My parents would be so mad when we would come back wet and muddy with some type of different creature to show them.
Now in days children are growing up so fast, most of them couldn't even tell you what a mud pie with soggy grass soup looks like. But if you were to ask them whats the newest xbox game, they would be able to give you a detailed outline.
I can't wait until my son and I are able to travel anywhere we want. Every time I travel I make sure to take pictures of landscapes. I have this beautiful picture of the sun rising on a ocean view beach in Florida. I can truly say that nothing can compete with the true beauty of nature. So before we destroy the Earth altogether, would should take this time to embrace the little wonders it has to offer.

bloodspilledangel said...

Nature is and always will be a big part of who I am. I seem to feel at ease when I sit beside a stream or walk through the woods. When I was about seven or eight my grandma and I used to walk through the woods near her home in New Paris and we would watch deer and pack lunches to wat beside the creek. Some of my best childhood years were spent outside, in fact I can hardly remember being indoors until I was a tenager and ever then I remember wanting to be outside if it was a pretty day. I remember camping most of my summer vacation when I was in middle school and through the first two years of high school. Spending all day romping through the woods then making my way to the water, where I would of course walk through it in all my clothes. Laying under the stars by the campfire and feeling at peace with myself. Even now, as I am 20, I find myself wanting to be outdoors when I have a lot on my mind. I live near a lake so I typically go and sit on a ledge by the dam when I feel overwhelmed by my surroundings. Nature, as I said, feels like a part of who I am. I'm not a parent as of now but I fully plan on giving my kids the benifits of nature's frutis. I plan on showing them the world I knew as a child and experiencing it right along side them.

stewie in female form said...

Hey i think Rachel Carson was brilliant- she loved animals, science, but what was her FAVOURITE animal? I wish i knew. But yeah men are sometimes over rated by themselves and others. They have bigger brains, yes, but they're insanely slower then women. More credit should be given to amazing people like Rachel Carson. By people, i mean women.

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