As I sit perched on a large rock listening to the trickling stream, I feel at peace. This state of being, brought on by my love of nature, began in childhood. I treasure the time I spent in the company of flowing creeks, grand rivers, inviting woods, and under the clear blue sky.
When I think of childhood, I think of imagination, a magical world full of fairies and forests. I think of wading barefoot in the creek on hot summer days, balancing on fallen logs, and climbing high into the branches of my backyard trees. Was I learning anything during these carefree ventures, or was I just frivolously fettering my days away for naught? Were these experiences in any way educational? I had no teacher by my side. Or did I?
Teachers come in all shapes and sizes: from a tiny sapling to a fifty foot oak, from a low running creek to the mighty Mississippi, from a small woodland creature to a small Midwestern child. I learned many lessons outdoors in nature ~away from a desk, without pencil and paper, absent of text books. Touching, Seeing, Hearing, Smelling; all assisted in my education. Daydreams helped lock in the messages received through my senses. Each thought connecting to the next until totally new pathways were laid down, like the paths that lay before me in the woods. These were my own personal connections, connections only I could make, given the space, time, and freedom to think- unencumbered.
We don’t learn in a vacuum, only in certain situations, only in specific environments. Learning is a constant throughout each person’s lifetime. Sometimes the new insights are glaringly obvious; most of the time the connections are so subtle they go unnoticed. Often, with age, the organic learning of childhood shuts itself down, or at least gets constricted, cutting off the fluidity once so pervasive.
When we step back and observe the learning that is taking place every moment, we can appreciate it for what it is. When the magic of childhood is allowed to blossom, learning is abundant, and the world is transformed.
Photo courtesy of Suzanne Norton.