Monday, January 25, 2010
Sense of Wonder
"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." –Rachel Carson
As a young adult my father gave me a copy of Rachel Carson's book, The Sense of Wonder. The images in that book reminded me of my rich and powerful past as a child who was not only allowed to roam in the woods and climb trees but was also taken for glorious long walks through our large park that meandered down to the Potomac River. My father was mostly quiet on those walks and always walked behind us, letting us lead the way. He was always good for an answer if we had a question and his shoulders came in handy when we grew tired. I don't remember him teaching us anything but I learned so much. Two lessons in particular stayed with me. I learned that the quieter you were the more you saw and trees needed to be climbed gently. I think that is when I developed an unspoken communication with trees, testing the branch's flexibility before I put my weight on it. (Later in life that communication extended to all plants and a hunger to learn about ecosystems and my place in it.)
Recently, I had a smiliar experience with my neice. Our development has put aside some open space for all to enjoy including a Cypress Swamp behind my house. We set out on our walk around the swamp and I let her lead the way. We discovered so much; maple trees with red and yellow leaves, warblers that flew around us,turtle eggs that had been dug up by a predator,an expansive view of a large pond,tracks,secret places filled with Cypress knees,and most of all something she told me she had waited her whole life to do. As we past by a vine climbing on a wax myrtle, I recognised it as Carolina Aster. I asked her if she would wait for me as I got a closer look at the seeds. As she watched me, she noticed that as I grabbed that small fluff ball of seeds the wind blew it out of my hand and into the air, revealing each seed with it's own parachute. That's when she told me that she had waited her whole life to blow those seeds into the air. I carefully lowered a branch for her to pluck an opened seed pod. She was so careful and so satisfied to blow those seedlings on their way. I didn't say a word but felt joyful at being able to grant a life time wish for a six year old.
Since spending more time with my neice I have discovered that she has many of these lifetime wishes. Everyday experiences that seem extraordinary in her presence...the sense of wonder!