I brought up my children in the country. Their playground was hills and creeks and rivers – a pasture where deer grazed in early morning dew, a creek that sometimes flowed and sometimes was dry and even had a mini flash flood one time, a one hundred year old live oak climbing tree that went down when a small twister passed over and became a horizontal jungle gym for a year before we sawed it up for firewood. They watched me devise ever more ingenuous traps for the marauding rabbits, deer and armadillo that threatened the garden that they had helped me plant and weed and harvest.
They all live in the city now and they take their children on country weekends and camping trips but it’s not the same. The kids know their home turf is the urban scene and that is where they feel comfortable. The country is strange, maybe fun, sometimes scarey – but not home.
I watched a Nature program on PBS with my grandson, Carlos. Carlos, who is 5, has always been fascinated with birds, something thankfully we still have in our urban scene. We would sit on the patio of his suburban home when he was younger and I would tell him the names of the birds we saw and how to recognize their song and we would look for nests and occasionally find a feather. The PBS program was about raptors. My wiggly, energetic 5 year old sat mesmerized for the whole hour – he was so thrilled to see these birds even on a TV screen. He certainly inherited the birdlover gene, straight from his Audobon great-great grandmother though his nature mystic grandma to him, skipping over generations like a stone, the love of wings carrying us on . . . . “Paying witness is one of the jobs our generations have inherited — the world is as intact and complete right now as it’s going to be for a long time to come!” – Bill McKibben