Young Eyes of the World

The past ruptures in us; dreams clinging on as reminders that are storming through the skies of our present. I feel like I am living on the edge of a child’s mind. The young part of me wanted a life in the outdoors. And, although it took a long time and many chapters later this was not the end of the story.

Like the world erupting and changing, so did mine, my mountains are rising as the trail head becomes unexplored terrain. I can’t help but think about this everytime I go to work now.

Working as a park naturalist I see the faces and fresh eyes of children who know some of the natural world. Their youth is a force of will that drives them to achieve, explore and experiment. The even younger ones, indeed, have a short attention span; trying to take everything in at once they dive in running to each and every piece of Earth that calls to them.

I teach various school groups about environmental issues; how diverse it is and why it’s important for us to protect it. I find myself figuring out my own ideologies and taking defense for this planet as time goes on. But, I am also marveling at the aptness of the kids I encounter.

I was working with one particular group of Pre-K’ers (Pre-Kindergarteners). I was engaging them on the water cycle and the litter that makes it’s way into the waterways. Which includes annoying yet adorable songs. My group and I had hiked down to the lake within the borders of our regional park. All along the way they were enamoured with the charms and sounds of the woods, as well as unsure of the rocky path that lay before them. A few older hikers with their dogs nodded at my short troop as they walked on by with a few smiles. The group of ten or so children squealed at the site of the dogs.

As we neared the lake we saw a congregation of egrets nesting near the shoreside, a few floating in the lake. We stopped for a moment to check out the scene. The sun reigned reflecting off the cool surface. A few ripples appeared in the still waters. “Do you believe a bird or other animals would drink water that has been polluted and is dirty?”

I looked towards the water and then back at my young group. “No,” they all answered distracted by the ground they were walking on and afraid that every single stick under the towering redwoods was somehow related to poison oak.

“Why is that?” I asked, “How can you tell the water isn’t dirty? Isn’t dirty water good for you?”

“No! It’s gross!”

“Do you think that water is clean for those egrets hanging out?” I pointed to the birds, a few of them dipping their beaks into the water for a drink.

The looked closely at the birds, their young eyes in awe as one of the birds began to take flight just above the waters. This fixation lasted about 2.5 seconds, “yeah—” most of them muttered before caving into the bodily needs of snack and potty.

These kiddos are pretty perceptive, I did have one more question, “Should we remind people to help keep the water clean?”

“Yes!” A few blurted out suddenly having a spontaneous amount of energy.

“Why?”

“Cause its not nice for the animals and tastes like poop.”

The young eyes of the world sometimes see more than we do and perhaps we can learn from them.

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