Walk With Nature

June 9, 2009

Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.-- John Muir

Our recent Cardinal experience has now come full circle. Sadly, last week we discovered one of our young Cardinals dead in our back yard. The kids found him and came running to get me. We hadn’t seen the babies since they leaped out of the nest, but we had been hearing them and seeing the parents at the feeder so we knew they were still in our yard. It was a sad discovery for all of us and it wasn’t as “stingless” or initially as "beautiful" as John Muir proclaims, but it was an important moment for each of us. It reminded me of my own discoveries as a child growing up in the country. The sadness, the fragility, but the reality of life eventually coming to an end. It prompted many questions. Why? How? Can we help him? And it also became strangely beautiful. We were able to examine our little Cardinal. We noticed his new tail feathers with hints of red and his underside still full of baby feathers. We talked about how much he had changed in the week since leaving his nest. And while doing this we heard chirping in the branches overhead. It was one of his siblings…fluffy new feathers, perky crest on her head, and chirping with life. Muir is right about the inseparable unity of life and death. In the course of just a few weeks, we have seen it in our yard and in our hearts. And I am glad. I am not glad that my kids are sad, but glad that they are learning these lessons in a natural context. They have seen life from the beginning to the end. And it is very different from the concept of life and death as seen in cartoons and Pokemon cards. It is indeed very good “to let children walk with Nature”. Not always easy, but good.

***The photo is of an abandoned nest we discovered earlier this year (note: plastic dress-up shoes are not recommended for serious nature walks, but seem to work fine in the back yard). You can take a peek at our Cardinal family's nest here along with photos of them at different stages.
Dawn said...

Such an amazing experience for all of you...
As you said about your own childhood... this expereince will stay with them. So very different than what you can learn from T.V... even the documentaries!
Nature is a wonderful teacher...Thank you for sharing!

morninglight mama said...

Oh my. This whole post is sad, poetic and beautiful, all at the same time. What a full-circle experience, huh?

Cami said...

I love that picture. You have definitely given your children a lot to remember.

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