by hikers of the foot trail linking the Old Erie Canal Towpath to the Finger Lakes Trail
Plan your Link Trail hike!
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Teaching Dylan and Abby about Seed Dispersal
Here's my favorite thing to do with kids: take them out in nature and hone my translation skills.
I have an engineer's vision of natural processes as being cut from the same cloth as heat transfer and osmotic gradients. I think of seed dispersal and root branching in terms of entropy and suface-area-to-volume ratios. But I can't talk to kids about heat transfer and osmotic gradients and entropy and surface-area-to-volume ratios. I need to fit my vision to their eyes. Between the majesty of nature and the child's perception must stand an intermediatry: a Metatron whose voice a nascent ear can hear. To be that Metatron is a life's calling.
I've given variants of this speech to Dylan many times during our walks along the roadside. To teach Dylan, and now Abby, the sundry evolutionary innovations in seed dispersal, I speak in terms of mother and child, of animals and fire. Nature has no intent, but I rely heavily on anthropomorphic imagery. A decade or two from now I can explain to them my abstruse notion that evolution doesn't happen, but rather fails to not happen. For now, I fill their heads with vivid images of nature to lead them to reverence.