Although it’s been quoted to the point of cliche, one of my favorite quotes is one from Rachel Carson (I confess to using it on another blog post as well):
If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, 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.
I’ve often wondered how I absorbed my “nature knowledge.” My mother, father, and stepfather loved the outdoors, but I wouldn’t say they were “nature lovers.” My mother enjoyed sunning herself at the beach or drinking iced tea in the backyard surrounded by pots of pink geraniums. My father loved to sail, and my stepfather loved to swim in the ocean. But they certainly weren’t card-carrying members of the Sierra Club.
But someone along the way (my older sisters?) taught me the names of shells, that you should never pick or step on a lady slipper flower because they are very rare, that you can pull off the ends of honeysuckle and drink the yummy nectar, and so on.
If you’re going to the beach this summer with children, you may want to pack this book Seashells by the Seashore by Marianne Berkes, illustrated by Robert Noreika, and be the “designated nature teacher” for a child. I bought the book the other day from Amazon just because I loved the sunny watercolors. It introduces common shells and includes a laminated card with shell names that can be detached from the book. I hope to share this with a child sometime when I’m at the beach (or maybe with my college-aged sons–they may not know the names of all these shells!).
Please send along your book recommendations also.