To The Daily Sun,
Last week I took the day off. Well, technically, I've taken the rest of my life off because I retired from paid employment about eleven years ago. Now I volunteer to do things that interest me. So, as I was saying, it was an off the volunteer clock kind of day. We, the wife and I, decided on a trip to Wellington State Park. Cool-pack with chips an soda, the gym-bag for swim suits and sun lotion completed the preparation. We were out of the pajamas and on the road by 9 a.m.
We were in a hurry to get there so up the interstate we flew. The weather was supreme. There was a light breeze, temperature in the high seventies and heading toward eighty. It was just a banner day! Heading out of Bristol going north you can feel yourself start to relax. The Newfound River gurgles on your right and soon you are at the turn that signals the presence of a big beautiful lake nearby. After you make the corner you can stop and drink in the scene. No stopping on this occasion because our destination was even more idyllic. I was driving, trying to make sure I didn't run over any of the 20 or so scantily clad beach goers playing with their cell phones instead of enjoying the scenery.
Finally, we reached our destination, the park. Seniors drive right through but we stopped and said hi to the ranger. Since my wife has a disabled sticker, we found a parking spot next to the beach path. WOW, we went from hot parking lot to one of the premier beaches this side of Cape Cod in about a hundred steps. After cool-out time in the water, I brought out the beach chairs and we settled in.
As usual, my wife became fast friends with the people to the right and left while I soaked up nature at its best. We had nailed down the end of a picnic table behind us and back in the shade. We popped open the cool-pack and did the mid-morning munchies and soda. As we sat at our end of the table a kid with a group of city kids occupied the other. He was intentionally separating himself from the group, not dressing himself for swimming and playing some dreadful game on his cell phone. When a counselor came to invite him to eat with the others, he refused and kept to himself. His behavior reminded me of a book by Richard Louv. His book, “Last Child in the Woods,” is an analysis of what Richard calls Nature Deficit Disorder.
I had an opportunity to listen to an address that Mr. Louv gave to a group of conservation types a few years ago. His lecture got me to thinking how lucky I was to have grown up on a farm and going fishing with my dad. I tried, as Richard asked us to do, imagine what happens to a child when they have no frame of reference that leads them to understand the natural cycle. Apartment dwelling, city streets and schools ill equipped to present a comprehensive understanding of nature have failed a large portion of the school age children. The syndrome has, in part , contributed to the ADD condition we hear so much about.
The kid down the table from us had all the signs, anti-social, ego defensive and focused on his computer game to the exclusion of what was going on around him. My wife, who can get just about anyone into a conversation in the blink of an eye, failed to breach his defenses. After about five minutes she rolled her eyes and said let's take a walk. So, we gave up on him and continued on our “day off.”
Next stop was Bear Mountain road. Near the top there is stellar panoramic view of the lake. After we had our fill of the scenic view, we decided on lunch. Hebron has a nice little store that doubles as diner. Hot dogs and sandwiches prepared by a nice young lady. She was the polar opposite of the kid at the lake. It was evident that she had the good fortune of being born in a great little town to parents who helped her appreciate nature and gave her a strong sense of community. As we left our lunch nook, I remembered the last line of Richard's book: “We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth.”