Every now and then we humans should take a step back and just stop growing up for a moment. Stop being so adult for a little while and see the world with children’s eyes and try stomping in puddles. See the wonder that is around us and explore our surroundings as if for the first time.
There’s a fun program at the Wildlife Refuge for small kids called Puddle Stompers. It’s a Winter program and being in the Northwest, there are no shortages of puddles. Especially this year, the refuge actually flooded on two occasions and the trail had to be closed. But today was gorgeous walking weather, and we were teaching pre-schoolers all about eagles.
While not incorporated into today’s lesson with the Puddle Stompers, I wanted to share some of my lessons of an eagle. My first impression of eagles came from Native American lore, and their medicine wheel. The place of the East is the Eagle, and they revere Eagle for His ability to fly high and see the whole picture. There is understanding and empathy with the Eagle, and because He soars in the sky, He is close with the Great Spirit. So, Eagle is a spiritual being.
Out on the refuge there is a mated pair. They once had built a nest in the dead center of the refuge and was a beacon for visitors. For several years they had eaglets and practically raised their young before our eyes. However, last year they failed to produce a viable egg. Some of the biologists think the old nest is structurally unsound, others think the eagles wanted more privacy, but all we know is the eagles moved and built a new next across the river. It’s hidden in the trees and barely noticeable even if you know where to look. But we are hopeful that they will gain comfort in their new home and we will eventually have good news to share with visitors.
The eagles have huge fans. And I’m glad they are there. I’m glad the refuge is there. I’m super glad they are open to the public and free. Not many places are. Their agenda at the refuge is to connect people to nature and wildlife and make it as convenient as possible.
The importance of connecting with nature is not just a philosophical one. It’s not just an ancestral one. It’s physical. Our bodies crave the outdoors. Walking in fresh air has 10 times more mental and cognitive benefits than walking on a treadmill. And, let’s be honest, it’s WAY more fun!
But unfortunately, we are shutting ourselves indoors more and more. And our children only see nature on television or photos. Many are terrified of the woods. A while ago, a kid told me he was afraid to go in the woods around his place because he was afraid a tiger was going to get him. I’m not sure why his parents hadn’t set him straight, or maybe they didn’t want him to go in the woods alone, but the statement shocked me. This is the future of the stewardship of the earth, here.
But today, the preschoolers were having a blast looking for animals or evidence of animals. We saw a snake and not one of these kids was scared or tried to chase it. We were able to get super close to a flock of geese without any of the kids running down the trail chasing them. After a few minutes, we turned to leave and the geese all took off over us. The kids were awe-struck. These are the stories that give me hope and reinforce my idea that we NEED to get outside!
I love the idea of being a Puddle Stomper. Even in yucky weather, we can have some fun with nature and the outdoors.