As the Co-Founder of friendsofwater.com I spend a lot of my time listening and talking with our customers, suppliers, and ezine readers. Our conversations often find their way to shared interests in gardening, birding, or kayaking and people ask me how I became so interested in the natural world, and so passionate about water.
In the 1960's I grew up on the Connecticut coast near pristine beaches, rivers and woods. I would estimate that 75% of my life was spent in, on, or near water for the first seventeen years of my life. My family home was sited on a large property that included old growth firs, deep woods, glacial rock, and a moderate-sized swamp. These undeveloped areas were home to a wide variety of birds, small mammals, reptiles, native plants and many types of trees, as this area was not yet the home of millions of families that would make their way into the New England suburbs outside of New York City. My life of the 60's contrasts greatly with a childhood in 2007 in the United States.
I spent a great deal of my childhood in these woods exploring and watching how nature worked its magic in each season.I loved nature so much that I built a fort where I kept my walking stick, journal, binoculars and the like. I could have lived here, however, my parents did require me to spend each night at home in my warm bed!
The natural world astounded me and I had a lot of questions about how and why things happened as they did. How was it that the wild flowers would disappear at the end of summer and faithfully reappear each spring? Why did Skunk cabbage smell so bad? Why would a turtle freeze above ground one winter? What were all those lines in the large rocks, and where did those huge things come from? Why did some leaves turn color in Fall and other not?
My observations led to questions, which evolved into a rhythmic patience as the seasons revealed some answers and kind teachers provided me books to read to uncover other answers. Slowly over the years I became deeply attuned to the natural world and compassionate for all its life. My inquisitiveness has not ceased and my joy has grown exponentially - most especially from engaging with others with wild places.
Naturalist and writer Joseph Bharat Cornell, author of Sharing Nature with Children writes: "If we want to develop an attitude of reverence for life, we need to begin with awareness, which in turn can lead to loving empathy. As we begin to feel our common bond of life with living things around us, our actions become more harmonious in an unforced, natural way, and we become concerned for the needs and well-being of all creatures."
Bharat is a wise naturalist who has dedicated his life to sharing nature with others.He is a gifted teacher who helps adults and children learn "how to use nature awareness activities in a flowingly purposeful way" and become aware of how to understand the natural world. He calls his approach "flow learning" and it is a wonderful process where we engage with nature, arouse our enthusiasm, become increasingly sensitive and aware, and experience a joy-filled understanding of our contact with nature. We highly recommend his books which we've listed in the side bar.
How will you listen to nature this summer? Which rivers, lakes or ponds will you enjoy and preserve? What will you teach your children and friends about some special wild place, body of water, or animal species? We would love to hear about your memories, dreams, and truths. Please send us your story for including in our ezine, The Waterfall.