A SENSE OF WONDER

Since January 1, 2005, I have taken over 1000 nature walks in Eliza Howell Park in Detroit.

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In getting started on this project, I was influenced by the advice of different naturalists over the years: if you really want to get to know nature well, take the same walk repeatedly. Good advice. I am finding that repeated visits to the same area — and good record keeping — do lead to a much better knowledge of the flora and fauna and to a much clearer recognition of the ways nature changes with the seasons.

Shortly before she died in 1964, Rachel Carson wrote an essay entitled “The Sense of Wonder,” reflecting upon a child’s sense of wonder and the risk that, without nourishment, it will not last until adulthood.

“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full or wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.”

My childhood was many years ago, but my feeling of wonder and awe, my love and enjoyment of nature, grows the more I observe, learn, and understand. This leads naturally to a desire to share these experiences with others.

Eliza Howell Park is a Detroit city park, large (about 250 acres) and includes a diversity of habitats. The Upper and Main branches of the Rouge River meet in the park, with bottomland that is flooded on many occasions. A significant portion of the park is wooded and there is a large open area spotted with mature trees.

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The park is close to home and provides an excellent opportunity for me to experience the natural world in its wonder and excitement and beauty, right in the heart of a major urban area. I continue to be excited by what nature presents in season after season.

 

 

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