Seven Wonders of the World – Out Your Back Door
© Anne Geller
One of the greatest gifts we can bestow upon our children is a sense of appreciation. So when you step outside your door, get small and wonder aloud about the wonders of the world. Here are seven of them at your fingertips.
Wonder #1: Spiders and Snakes
The next time a nasty little insect crosses your path, swallow that "ugh", that screech, that primal homicidal urge and convert it to an admiring "ooh", or an "ahhh" for the miracle of that six, or eight, or one hundred legged creature. Refrain from throwing a shoe or the nearest object at hand at that spider in the bathtub, catch him (put a glass jar over him and slide a piece of junk mail under him) and with your child, admire his coloring, count his legs, wonder about what it feels like to be in that jar with big eyes staring you down. Now take him outside and together find him a new "home" (and recycle the jar and junk mail).
Wonder #2: The Wild Kingdom
Tomorrow morning, instead of rubbing that sleep from your eyes and hurrying your children into their clothes, through breakfast and out the door – stop for a moment and listen. Do you hear the birds? Go to the window and see if you can find the source of that cacophony. Are they searching for food or just singing for the morning pleasure of it? Sit in a park and look for squirrels. Appreciate with your children the wonder of making it through a cold winter and the effort that lies ahead in their preparations for the next one. Drive by Rowena and look to the hills, try to spy the mountain goats that live there. Isn’t it grand that we can share all this together?
Wonder #3: Buds & Blooms
Dogwoods are blooming – pink, white and green. Daffodils, grape hyacinth, tulips – they are already fading but will return again next spring, because that is the way of things. Now this tree has buds, now leaves. Aren’t we fortunate to have apples and pears and cherries at roadside stands, fresh picked and ungroomed by grocery store standards? Notice those ferns growing in the shade and admire the moss in cool, damp places, so pretty on rocks, filling in the vertical slopes of north facing stairs. Sunny hillsides shine with balsam root and purple spikes of lupine reach to the sky. Discover the little flowers growing through gravel, they are true survivors, pick a name for them.
Wonder #4: The Earth
It’s a great day for digging. Can you feel the earth, cool and moist in your hands? Wow, A WORM! Look, here’s some sand, let it run through your fingers, let’s squeeze it between our toes. It’s so tiny, but so strong. Today we could be rock hounds – how many different kinds of rocks can we find? Where do you think they came from? The earth is big, really big. Those hills above Lyle look like hot dog buns, or waves, or legs laid side by side –how did that happen? And how did Mount Adams get there? Or Mount Hood? See how they are different? Half way around the earth there are mountains three times as high. And deep in the earth there are underground rivers, there’s hot stuff flowing in places. Wow, is the earth big. Aren’t we lucky to get to live on top of it?
Wonder #5: From H to O
And what about water, the stuff of life? The Columbia, so big and wide it looks still. But go throw a stick in and watch it move west. This lake is moving, this lake is a river. The water you see now, will be in the ocean soon. How long will it take to get there? Now let’s go sit by a smaller river, one we can see to the bottom of. Listen to the sounds, there’s so many, we don’t have names for them. Does it tinkle, babble, burp or roar? Get close and smell. Feel how it’s cooler here by the river and then step up on the bank and notice it gets warmer. That snow up there on the mountain, those glaciers, will someday melt to water. When we turn on our faucet at home we have water that was once mountain. When we drink the water, we drink the mountain. Isn’t that something?
Wonder #6: Fire and Rain
Oh, the wonder of weather. The fire of the sun – we feel it on our backs and faces, it’s so far away, but can still burn us, leave us pink and hot. Give thanks for the clouds. So many colors and shapes. Clouds that bring us rain. Rain cools our skin, fills our mountains and rivers. And the wind, the mysterious wind that moves trees, makes waves with white cap tops, whistles in the night. Take another look at the clouds, why are they moving across the sky, what is pushing them? Could it be…
Wonder #7: Where the Circle Starts
Tie it all together now, because it’s all connected anyway. Remember that bird in the yard? He might like to eat your little spider friend, but that’s okay, because that’s what he needs to live too. Plus that bird will eat lots of bugs in his lifetime and without the birds and bats we’d be swarmed with bugs. Remember watching the Columbia River in the evening? We saw a fish jump. That fish was getting a bug to eat for dinner. He needs that to live too. And then we might eat that fish, or somebody might. Because we need food to live. And that fish sure needed that water, so you see how we need that water? That’s why, even though the sun is grand, we celebrate our rainy days. That water, that fills our rivers and lakes, we need it for the pear we ate this morning. Those Rowena mountain goats need water for the food they eat too. Our water is precious, so we don’t waste it. That spider is precious, that’s why he needs a better home than a bathtub. This earth is precious and beautiful, that’s why we protect it.
This is what we can give our children - a sense of appreciation, of wonder - an understanding of what it means to be precious – for a spider, a bird, a fish, a river.
Or for a child.