While we were out at the property last weekend, the entire family, my folks included, went on a nice walk around the place. My dad and I get around all over on a regular basis, but there were some parts of the place that my wife and my mother hadn’t seen.
So we grabbed the dogs and went for a walk. We walked about two and a half miles or so all told, with Dad and I pointing out actual locations of things we have planned. Stuff like the massive water storage tanks we’ll use to aggregate the different water sources, additional places where we think a surface well might be viable, or ideal places for secondary root cellars that we’ve found.
About half way through we came across a deer carcass that had been eaten up pretty good by critters, but the skeleton was largely intact. I spotted the jawbone about 20 yards away and pointed it out to Daughter #2, who promptly ran to pick it up so she could bring it into her science class to show it off.
Fast forward a few hours later, my daughter and I were discussing her new treasure, and I mentioned that she might be able to find the skull if she looked far enough. She managed to cajole me into walking back with her so that we could look for it.
Have I ever mentioned that I’m a total pushover for my beautiful girls?
Anyhow, as we walked across the pasture heading for the carcass I slowed us down, and started pointing things out to her. And not just so that she noticed, but we stopped every few minutes so I could explain WHY things worked that way to her.
Everything from how to read a game trail, why it goes where it goes, and to figure out how active it is (it’s amazing how fascinating piles of deer poop are to a kid) to reading the land and how water flows across it. We even discovered a pond nobody knew about because she tracked a water flow that caught her eye.
It took forever to get over to the carcass, but even there the learning didn’t stop. While we were looking for the skull, we found the actual spot that the deer died, and we talked about how even though it had died there, some animal had dragged it to where it was now.
Unfortunately we were unsuccessful at finding the skull. On our way back we swung up the hill to our trailer site (which is a ways away from my folks’ place) and made a few more discoveries. We found an old fence line from when our property was first settled, about 120 years ago, and she promptly traced the fence a few hundred feet to see where it went, finding an old rusty can of some sort along the way.
Every time she discovered something, you could see a glint of amazement in her eye, along with a real connection to what had happened there before we came.
Every time she learned how something worked or why something happened that way, that light bulb went on and she understood what it meant to observe the world, instead of just walk through it.
Which brings me back to Lee Ann Womack. Her song has a perfect line in it for how I feel about this weekend: I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
And I hope none of my kids ever do.
Watching her learn about the world around us renewed my personal sense of wonder, and reinforced the responsibility I have to teach my children everything I know, and teach them how the world truly works. And to never, ever, take anything for granted.
And you, my dear reader, I hope you haven’t lost your sense of wonder. If you have, or if you feel like the world is getting you down, take some time to find it again. I suggest teaching a child something wonderful about our world.