Yesterday I walked past a construction site which included a pile of dirt. On top of the pile two young girls laughed and shouted as they jumped, dug, tossed, and climbed up and down the pile. What a joyous sight! These girls clearly reveled in their exploration of what, to adults would seem, just a "bunch of dirt."
Isn't it wonderful to spend time with a young child and watch them take pleasure in running and crunching in a pile of autumn leaves? Or to watch a child splash and play in a puddle or a pool? Young children relish the chance to play and create in nature. It is in - well - our nature as humans to relish in the Earth. In his book Last Child In The Woods Richard Louve writes: “The woods were my Ritalin. Nature calmed me, focused me, and yet excited my senses.”
What happens as we grow older to remove us from the need to jump into leaves or puddles? At what point do we lose our joy? What will it take to get that feeling, that need, back into our lives?
Recently my Mother wrote about her childhood growing up during the 1930s in the east side of Detroit. At that time the city was expanding as the auto industry thrived. I was so surprised to read my Mother's descriptions of a neighborhood with few homes, wide open fields, and carefree childhood. It certainly does not describe the same neighborhood I knew when I grew up!
Ahh, those were the days
My only regret I have is that my own children did not have the same opportunity to experience these open spaces and living without a worry in the world.
What will the two young girls playing in the dirt pile yesterday reflect on seven decades from now? Will they look back at that experience with fondness? One can only hope they never lose their wonder and love of nature.