Each summer my son Carson and I take off on a week-long journey in June to explore some of our favorite places in West Virginia. This is a time for father and son to take it easy, discover new things, eat what we want, and spend time as best buddies.
This past June we visited the usual locations: Canaan Valley, Blackwater Falls, and Cranberry Glades. While walking on the boardwalk at Cranberry Glades we saw signs of a black bear –scat on the boardwalk, broken alder branches, and partially-eaten skunk cabbage. Rounding a corner of the boardwalk, we heard a loud crash to the side of us. The lighting wasn’t so great since we were facing the late afternoon sun, but we suddenly made out the shape of a bear, not more than 60 feet from us. Carson was mesmerized by the bruin since he had been wishing to see a bear for a very long time. Within a few minutes, the bear moved on.
On our way back home a few days later, we decided to explore the boardwalk again, hoping for another glimpse of the bear. After about an hour on the boardwalk, we heard a loud crash in the alder thickets, only this time the noise was much closer. We saw the yearling bear – not more than 35 feet from us this time – munching on skunk cabbage. With an overcast sky, Carson got a much better look this time.
What struck me the most was observing how patient Carson was watching the bear. For nearly 30 minutes we watched, photographed, and talked in whispered tones to each other.
For today’s younger generation, the act of patience is more of an anomaly than a routine occurrence. I was proud of how Carson savored the moment and I was equally honored to be with him at this time to share in the experience.
Today, fewer children are involved with the pleasure of exploring nature. Technology, safety concerns, and working parents all contribute to this sudden decline in nature appreciation. I’ve heard one quote that states, “But Mom, there’s not enough electrical outlets in nature.”
But there is hope in getting the younger generation engaged into nature. I’ve learned a thing or two on how to accomplish this and these ideas are not just from me, but also from Carson. Stay tuned for Part II of My Child in the Woods to learn more.