"Bundling up little Johnny in five layers in winter, for example, so he can experience the wonders of bird-watching or catching the occasional squirrel or rabbit at Oak Openings isn't going to cut it."
Pansies. You're right though. Dragging a kid outside may interfere with some grownup's TV time.
My good friend Al Gore said TV has made us complacent because the average American watches four hours of television a day.
And my name is Johnny. Well it was until I reached a certain age, and then I was just called John. When I was in grade school, I got bundled up in the late fall and winter to head out with Dad, hunting and trapping. I still have vivid memories of those days.
Instead of carrying a gun or number one long spring traps, carry an inexpensive digital camera. Too cold for a camera, carry a pencil and a sketchbook. Observing nature can be done cheaply. And with a little more money, here's my recommended Birdwatching Starter Kit for less than $200 that will last for several years.
And one can observe and learn about nature by simply around the neighborhood in all the seasons. What butterflies are bopping around the neighborhood right now? We've got Monarchs coming to our Swamp Milkweed plants. Cicadas have been whirring in our neighborhood, since the beginning of July. On my morning walk the past couple days, I've seen the wicked-looking cicada killer wasp. Acorns have started falling within the past few days. Last week, I saw a few small crickets, which I think were my first of the summer.
Our Tall Coreopsis plant just started blooming a few days ago. Not much bird song exists in the neighborhood anymore, now that the nesting season is nearing its end. But the American Goldfinches will bring young to our yard later this month or August, since they are late nesters. Later, the goldfinches will feed on our Purple Cone Flowers. Got your porch light on at night, check out all the funky insects it attracts. Want a challenge? Try identifying the moths around your home. Only 10,000 species of moths exist in the U.S.
Oh, I forgot, people are not going outside right now because of the mosquitoes. Too hot, too cold, too rainy, too snowy, too buggy.
An interest in nature requires a functioning brain, which may not exist in an adult watching four hours of television a day. That kind of mentally passive adult is probably not likely to get a child interested in nature. Studying nature requires patience, careful observation, research, and curiosity. Whether the temperature is -10 F or 95 F is inconsequential to the working, open brain.
My thoughts last fall :
A controlled exhibit can keep kids constantly entertained and involved in some way, but it's not natural. You're only exposed to so much in a controlled environment. Kids won't get the randomness of nature with this new zoo exhibit. You won't have the fortunate luck of seeing a Merlin snag a Tree Swallow out of the air unless you spend time outside.
Adults play a part in whether or not a kid "connects with nature." I suppose dumping the kids at the zoo is easier for the parents than walking around Oak Openings Metropark. So is this new zoo playground simply a taxpayer-funded daycare center, so parents don't have to parent? I think this new taxpayer-funded zoo project will do more harm to nature in the long run because kids at an early age will only think of nature as some sort of theme park.
Oh yeah, passing a levy to support a Waterman-led Portside COSI is a wretched idea.