Faceless Nature: A Room Full of Strangers
Earth Day, Floyd Virginia, 2014 could not have ordered up a more perfect spring Saturday in early May. Of course that same excellent weather meant some would be forced to get garden plants in the ground now that it seems the threat of frost is past. SEEMS, I say.
My small part this year was to lead two short nature walks around the forested grounds of the Ecovillage. I had given it some thought on the drive over that morning, and had an idea what I would tell the kids that came along for the walk. It was this:
“Imagine you go into a huge unfamiliar room and find it filled with one hundred people. You do not know a one of them. They are not only unknown but they are different from you and from each other. But they are all strangers. How would you feel? Would you be happy there, comfortable, at ease, and look forward to going back? Probably not.
“Now, let’s go to another room. There are one hundred people there also. But as soon as you look out upon them, you see maybe ten familiar faces.Â You know their names and who they are related to. You know some are musicians, some painters, some acrobats and others magicians or singers or writers. You know their habits and their preferences. How do you feel in that room? Familiar? At ease? Like you belong and would want to go back there? Probably.
Being in the woods or pasture or meadow is much the same. If you see no familiar faces, the place will seem strange–maybe uninteresting or even a little scary. But if you look and right away see a few wildflowers you know by name, some trees you know at a glance, and hear the call of four birds you will never see but know them by their voice, that outdoor “room” will be a place where you’ll always be comfortable, a place you will care about, belong to and will want to take care of because your “friends” live there.
This is what I would have told the children at the 10:45 hike on Saturday at Earth Day. No children came.
So I’m telling this to you few readers so maybe YOU can tell some children whose future means something to you. I could be wrong, but I’m thinking in this case, if my age peers, soonÂ to leave this place, are to have reasonable Â hope for the generations that willÂ take up the reins,Â Â ignorance of the Earth and its living things and places is not bliss. Indifference is not a neutral relationship without consequences.
The adults have to know faces in the natural world. They have to care. They have to go there often, with passion, with vision, with curiosity.
The children will follow where we lead them.