Sunday, February 24, 2013

The benefits of winter weather

Normally, I don't appreciate winter in the Midwest AT ALL!  But sunrise today brought a change of heart.  At sunrise, I caught a glimpse of our forest through the living room window that would not be possible in a more southern climate.

The eerie look of the fog in the forest, the bare lifeless tree limbs and the blanket of snow made a spectacular sight to behold.  The view was breathtaking but fleeting.
As I stepped outside in the morning chill, I could hear the birds chirping as if spring were here.  Their cheery calls broke the spell of the foggy forest followed soon after by the sunshine which "burnt" off the fog.

Yes, winter is here...but not for long!  Let's appreciate it while we can.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Environmental Hero

Last night, I was adding my profile to a new site that I had recently joined. One of the questions, "Who is your hero?" got me thinking.  Of course, my first reaction was Rachel Carson for her work in drawing attention to the dangers of DDT.

This got me thinking about my childhood. "Who is MY hero?"  The answer--my mom is my personal hero. No, she didn't stand up against a powerful industry.  No, she didn't write a bestselling book.  But what she did for me, and my siblings, is priceless.  You see, my family has a love of nature.  Two of us even have careers in the field.  How did this happen?

I have read that many of our early naturalists attributed their appreciation of nature to experiences in nature at an early age.  So, a few years ago, I asked my mom, "What did you do?" I really wanted to know why all three of us had this interest in the natural world, especially since we grew up in a big city.

My mom's humble answer: "I just took you outside for walks in the park."  I'm sure it wasn't just a walk in green space in a big city.  I'm sure there was discussion, perhaps like this: "Look at that bird; I wonder what it is doing?" or "Do you see that turtle; I wonder what kind it is?"

It was Rachel Carson who said:  “If a child is to keep alive his inborn 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.”   This, then, is what my mom did for us!

I remember having many pastimes in my youth like jumping rope, playing the clarinet, or collecting cat figurines.  Those pastimes are long past.  But watching nature...this is something that has stayed with me and that I enjoy each day.  My mom, nearing 90, frequently talks about the jays that come to the peanuts she puts on her railing.  Nature is a joy we continue to share and one I hope to pass on to my grandchild.

Watching nature is a joy instilled in me at a young age.  It is a joy that remains through the worries of the work day, the pressures of parenthood or the time spent with the products of the technology revolution.  Yes, my mom is my environmental hero.  She gave me the gift of nature appreciation.  Isn't that where any real environmental change the heart of a child!