I am extremely interested in Richard Louv's book, Last Child In the Woods. I will read it sometime, perhaps this winter when the pace slows down a bit. I totally agree with the idea that kids today play way too many video games and spend much of their time indoors or in "structured play". I have been trying to be better about making time for my daughter to be outside and in the woods. She is not yet capable of tackling a high peak, so on the weekends I am not hiking one of them, I make the effort to get her in the woods somewhere. My daughter's list of mountain climbs include, Hadley Mountain(x2), Tongue Mountain, Buck Mountain, and Shelving Rock Mountain. Her hikes are more enjoyable all the way around if she has my nephew to explore with along the way. Today, they wanted to search for monarch butterflies. We didnt find any butterflies, but what we discovered was that my nephew (the half boy, half animal I described in the bee post) has not quite made it to Jeff Corwin caliber as an animal enthusiast yet. The kids were excited to take their dogs and do the canoe carry trail that leads to the Hudson River. My nephew was armed with a plastic box for the collection of some type of creature he hoped to find. We made it uneventfully to the river, hung out on the rocks for a while, enjoying the waterfall of the dam. Until my nephew spotted this snake.
He let out a blood curdling non stop scream after yelling "SNAKE" which then led to my daughter's high pitched shrill intermittant screaming...both of them paralyzed, standing on their own rock unable to follow the simple directions I was shouting for them to go around the snake and that he was not poisonous. They finally made their way up to my sister who was equally as unable to help them as I was. Both of us were laughing so hard at this scene of hysteria that had derived from what was supposed to be an innocent nature walk. Well, my nephew was so mad at me for laughing at his panicked expense that he threw his plastic box of water at me. When he calmed down, he was able to express that he was sure this snake was a rattle snake (which was obviously why he was so scared). Shortly into our walk home, he was back to normal. He gave his 3 year old sister who was unaffected by the discovery of the snake, a ride on his back and in no time was showing all of us how to run like an ostrich. Whew...I dont think we traumatized him too badly. Aside from being on the computer researching Northern Water Snakes, I dont think we've lost this outdoor boy to the Grand Theft Auto video game yet. In fact, you never know what this experience might lead to...a quote from Jeff Corwin:
"When I was little, while exploring my grandparent's backyard in Massachussetts, I turned over a log and had an encounter that forever changed my life. I saw this garter snake, and was immediately transfixed by it. I remember catching it and bringing it into the house with me and seeing the terror it unleashed in people, but not understanding why they were so afraid of it. As I've often said, if I'd rolled back that log and found a golf club, I would have been Tiger Woods. I tracked that snake for two years and would visit it every time I went to my grandparents. One day, the neighbor next door snuck up behind me and cut off its head with a spade, thinking it was attacking me. I was so shocked by that behavior, by that expression of ignorance, it focused me on what I was going to do with my life. The day I found that snake was the day I became a naturalist. The day I saw it get killed out of a misunderstanding was the day I became a conservationist"