IT WAS LIKE A SCENE from yesteryear. Two bikes dumped along the side of a trail, just before a bridge. Two blue-jean, t-shirt clad boys on the bridge, so focused they were unaware of my presence.
Until I reached them, paused and asked what drew their attention at the River Bend Nature Center Turtle Pond. Not a turtle could be seen in the stagnant, murky water.
But the boys had stopped to dip their hands into the pond, pulling tiny black snails from the water to place next to a woolly caterpillar clinging to a cottonwood leaf. They’d rescued the caterpillar earlier from a roadway.
This is the stuff of Mayberry. This is the stuff of my childhood—those carefree days when kids roamed and ranged and delighted in the intricacies of nature. This scene, these boys, brought me joy. Rare are the times I see kids playing, exploring, discovering without the supervisory presence of adults in an organized activity.
But on this autumn afternoon, this pair—certainly old enough to be off on their own—delighted in simply being outdoors. As we watched a snail peer out of its shell, I thought, life really doesn’t get any better than this, this slowing down to appreciate nature at a snail’s pace.
© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling