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Bridging the Nature Gap

Bridging the Nature Gap

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Published by Fred First
Were you curious by nature as a child? Were you curious about nature? And you children and grand-children? Our indifference and ignorance of life outdoors poses serious risks. So we, as adults, have ample opportunities to become "field guides" to lead our kids back outdoors.
Were you curious by nature as a child? Were you curious about nature? And you children and grand-children? Our indifference and ignorance of life outdoors poses serious risks. So we, as adults, have ample opportunities to become "field guides" to lead our kids back outdoors.

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Published by: Fred First on Jun 11, 2010
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06/11/2010

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 Bridging the Nature Gap: Leading Them Outdoors
 page 21 / What We Hold In Our Hands: a Slow Road Reader 
 Nature was our first classroom, playground, and teacher. Woods and forest,hillside, meadow and shore were fertile soil for young imaginations. Those places offered grown-ups who are now my age a first glimpse of beauty andadventure. Playing in those places left us with a feeling of awe andfreedom. We knew wonder as children, but for many, it didn’t surviveadulthood. We were born with such curiosity in things outdoors. Do youremember?Maybe your first memoryfrom nature is a caterpillar crawling on the back porchstep, or making a wish as youswirled away the thistle-downof a dandelion, spinning untilyou were dizzy-drunk. Youmight remember a sunnyafternoon chasing butterfliesin the park or cuppinglightning bugs in your handson a balmy June evening, or  breathing in the smell of a summer thunderstorm and fresh-cut grass.A woodlot was a wilderness then and we made up the rules as we wentalong. Hide and seek, tag—you’re it! Tie a thread on a June bug’s leg.Climb a tree. Find a four leaf clover. Turn rocks in the creek for crayfish,and don’t get pinched. Throw pebbles at a can, skip them on the pond, turnthem in your hand for flecks of mica or fool’s gold.We find our treasure where our hearts are. One great treasure we possess isearth itself, the landscapes of our lives. We’ve always known this. But our hearts have moved indoors.Adult and child alike, we rushthrough the outdoor world on our way to life inside. There, we aresatisfied with nature, infrequentlyand vicariously browsed by way of dazzling media technologies. Theseare entertaining but un-nourishingsubstitutes for the feel of a cool boulder against our backs or the dry-leaf smell of mountain woods inOctober. While we are curious bynature, less and less is it nature that we are curious about.We are constantly entertained but not easily awed. For our kids, theordinary joy of play outdoors no longer competes for their attention or appreciation, and we adults are at least in part to blame. They want to belike us. They do what we do. They become curious about those things that

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