Meanderings on Sunday After …

After a week of earth science drama in Virginia, this morning’s dawn slipped into a blue-sky day, another kind of earth science phenomena that like clockwork follows behind the path of a hurricane.

Instead of flooding the earth with more rain, the sky was flooded with the perfect blue of a high-pressure system. Light breezes rocked tulip poplars, white oaks, and sycamores in the nearby woods. It was a day for meandering deep into the hollow, and through a field of thigh-high broom sage, now August-worn.

I am reminded of the Last Child in the Woods when I wander. This summer, an owner of an “ice cream” van who wandered neighborhoods in search of children shared with me there were no longer children at play in yards, or tree houses, or on the sidewalks.  She found that her ringtone horn brought no one clamoring for a rocket pop to the sidewalk unless pre-arranged for a birthday party.  “Where are the children?” she asked.

When I walked the fields, woods, unpaved roads, and backyard today, I was reminded why I still love the seeking of undiscovered possibilities of the natural environment, and why there never should be a last child in the woods.

water's edge

It seems as if just yesterday, I was such a child wandering the fields, woods, and swamps of the low country, caught by the sun filtering through Spanish moss and the scream of the Pileated Woodpecker flitting from Cypress tree to live oak. Such meandering uncovered an afternoon of I-Search moments for me in my childhood yesterdays, and for me again today. What was the raccoon – if it was a raccoon – hunting last night at the water’s edge?

Terrapene carolina

Or, why did the Eastern box turtle, a study in slow locomotion, get motivated to cross a gravel road?

In the garden, a Snowberry Clearwing moth allowed me to slide close enough to capture its image while it hovered a whisper above the blooms of a butterfly bush.

How could I not wonder what secrets its evolution holds, this moth that so closely mimics the hummingbird?

Snowberry Clearwing

This perfection of a blue-sky day led me up a well-washed gravel road, one once traveled by natives, colonials, revolutionists, presidents, citizen-soldiers in blue and grey, farmers’ families, country doctors, hunters, and now the occasional mountain biker.  I imagined what it would be like to stream together the generations of inhabitants and wanderers who have traveled into this hollow and over the sagging mountain for which the road is named. What questions would we have for each other? We might ask, what led us here? What do we share?

the gap road

There’s patience to be learned in the natural world that I inhabited today. I stood in a roadbed with a bank that extends 10 feet over my head. How long did it take to wear the soil down until a vein of quartz now lies exposed? And, what about the rounded chain of mountains through which I walk? How much time needed to pass for them to become great-grandfather mountains, unlike the mere youth of today’s spiked Rockies?

Virginia Day Flower

I’ve been led outdoors over a lifetime to find things that I otherwise would not know. I am drawn to a palette of watchet-blue of Virginia Day Flowers and the purple of thistles to which tiger swallowtails cling. On this day, amidst a brushing together of leaves in the slight breeze and an occasional cacophony of cicadas, there is much that remains silent- no planes overhead, their flights grounded by the hurricane.

Thistle Bank

In remembering the conversation with the ice-cream van entrepreneur, I am reminded today of silent children who spend their moments mostly inside the built environment, removed from the wonders of backyards, sidewalks, fields, woods, and ponds – and I consider what they’ve lost.


About pamelamoran

Educator in Virginia, creating 21st c community learning spaces for all kinds of learners, both adults and young people. I read, garden, listen to music, and capture photo images mostly of the natural world. My posts represent a personal point of view on topics of interest.
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3 Responses to Meanderings on Sunday After …

  1. Chuck Bell says:

    Pam,
    Thanks for sharing these reflections. I’m beginning to see a positive trend in which educators are embracing the merits of recess and other outdoor activities for students.
    Your post also conjures up wonderful memories and prompts in me the desire to really reconnect with the world’s natural beauty and wonders. There is certainly something to be said for “keeping the child within you alive.”

  2. I remember the year that I realized what my students, aka “asphalt kids” were lacking in their childhood days and how their lives were so different from my own childhood in rural SC …. I think of James, a former student of mine, that pronounced to me one final day in May on how much he loved our very simple and local field trip to Ivy Creek where we hiked in the woods and along the streams observing the natural world around us. I remember being surprised, since I thought of the other field trips we had taken that year. But James made me realize that even though he may have woods nearby, he’s not allowed to go there alone … nor is it safe for him to traipse through that wooded spot near his urban apt. He simply loved just being in this very foreign natural world. As educators, we must help our students step outside of their often comfort zone and observe the outside world, pausing to wonder why. We must share our stories and passions and curiosities…
    Thanks for the reminder, Pam. I enjoyed the virtual field trip with you.

  3. John Norton says:

    Another reader who grew up in rural South Carolina – thanks so much for this. I’ll be stealing your idea here as a theme for a post of my own, maybe two — one from here in the mountain woods where I now live and another from a road trip!

    John
    protagonist in “Escape from Atlanta”

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