This is the letter I'll be sending to all the local papers. I'm happy with it, although I think it may need some trimming before it sees print.
When I was a kid I could walk along Fairview Avenue for a mile without seeing a car. I could wander through woods where my father took me to swing on vines, pastures where I knew tasty woodchucks were living, and farmer's fields where I learned that corn leaves could cut like knives. My father told me about tadpoles turning into frogs. There was transformation in nature, and that knowledge brought a new magic into my world.
I can't go back to the frog pond where my father first showed me those tadpoles. I can't take you to the vines. The land is all posted. And when I walk with my five-year-old nephew along that same stretch of road that I first walked alone when I was his age, twenty cars race by before we can walk a mile. No one in their right mind would let him do it alone. The world has changed.
Ever since my earliest wanderings I've loved secret places. Isolated forest glades carry a touch of the mystical, but it's those hidden spots that lie just steps off the beaten path that make me feel like I've entered another world. Last summer I found a doozy. It's called the Link Trail, and you could walk twenty feet from it and never know it was there. If you step inside, you may feel what I felt: some of that old magic returning.
Maybe you're not as emotional as I am. Fine. But I defy you to see your enthusiasm reflected in the face of a five-year-old and describe the experience as anything but magic. And that magic is exactly what you get when you share nature with a child. So take the kid out onto the trail. If he likes construction, tell him about all the people and expertise and equipment that it took to build a trail over a ravine, or the long staircase near Canastota Creek. If she likes fantasy, show her the fairy dust sprinkled beneath the old log from countless larvae chewing into it. If you're religious, bring him to God's cathedral and read him Job 12:7-10. If you're into history, show him the patches of bloodroot and tell him about the Native Americans who used them for dyeing, and if you're a conservationist tell him why you're not allowed to pick them. If she's obsessed with death, show her the rabbit fur in the coyote droppings and the saplings growing on dead trunks--show her that you don't get death without rebirth.
But whatever you do, unstick that kid from the glowing rectangle du jour and get him out onto the Link Trail. And remember, nothing you do for a child is ever wasted. Don't believe me? Take a look at www.CNYLinkTrail.blogspot.com. See the beauty I've seen. See the magic I've shared with my nephew.
And get that kid out there.
4 years ago