|Courtesy of Rosemary Ratcliff|
I remember loving nature when I was a kid. Not in the sense that, when people asked me what I liked, I'd say, "Nature!" Summers were the best. I'd wake up, eat breakfast, and run outside. I'd hear, "Make sure you come back when I call you for lunch!" Sometimes I never did make it back. I had things to do. The first was to stir up all of the Mayflies that had settled on our house overnight.
|Courtesy Lisa McDonald|
|This photo's mine! (His name is Chester, by the way!)|
|Courtesy Dr. Joseph Valks|
Why am I writing about these memories? The recent news about the sudden deaths of thousands of birds and fish around the world got me thinking. My kids will never experience nature the way I did. I live in the same area - the westernmost point of Lake Erie. Now, I get all excited when a Mayfly lands on out house and get the kids to come over to marvel at it. The robins are just passing through now, rarely do my kids have the pleasure of pondering these birds' ability to pluck a worm from the earth. When it rains, a few sorry-looking worms peek out and they don't bring their friends the snails and slugs. They've never seen a toad in the wild and turtles are just pictures in books to them. They rarely spend time outside after dusk because the mosquitoes outnumber the lightning bugs a zillion-to-one.
We have a really nice state park two miles away from us with a beach on the lake. We don't go there. The entire length of the beach is an Area of Concern (AOC), according to the EPA - one of thirty in the entire country the last time I looked. This is due to PCBs and other toxic substances in the water. The insects and animals that I once was in awe of are being killed in alarming numbers. We are warned not to eat the fish from the river that is the center of that AOC. Conveniently, the line for that AOC stops 100 yards before it hits the water treatment plant for our area. (I try not to think about what is coming out of our faucet. I can tell you that 1" of bathwater is a beautiful blue and smells strongly of chlorine bleach.)
|Courtesy of Evgeni Dinev|
For many years, I have dreamt of moving far away from everything. North Dakota? Alaska? My arthritis won't take the cold. We're looking, though. I've read every book you can think of about homesteading, building your own house, living self-sufficiently and off the grid. My oldest is twelve. I don't think my dreams will be fulfilled by the time he's ready to leave for college. But my toddler, hopefully, will get to experience the wonder of seeing nature in it's natural habitat. We may have to work for years to bring our 5-10 acres back to the way it should be, environmentally, but I'm willing to work hard just so he can feel that awe. And, hopefully, my incredibly creative and imaginative older son will be able to experience it, too, even though he'll be on the cusp of adulthood.
Image: Rosemary Ratcliff / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image: Lisa McDonald / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image: Dr Joseph Valks / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image: Arvind Balaraman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image: Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net