by Petra Eperjesi, Manager of National Programs
Yesterday D. decided to have a “nature sale” on our way back from Rocky Mossy 2. This in itself was exciting, because in our very first week of being open at the Ottawa Forest and Nature School, the children created a nature “museum” in our then-totally-empty cabin, and had a raucous debate about whether or not to include humans in the nature museum, with our Executive Director Marlene as the specimen. They ultimately agreed that, yes, humans are part of nature.
Yesterday, that same debate and more unfolded:
As D. collected “things from nature” in her net, N. mused that, “everything is from nature, so everything would have to be in the sale.”
“No! Not everything is from nature!” the gaggle gathered around the net objected.
“Yeah, like plastic toys, for example,” N. said. “Plastic comes from oil and oil comes from the ground so that’s nature.”
“But plastic is bad for the planet,” R. frowned.
We trudged on.
“Huh. How can something that comes from the planet be bad for the planet?” I wondered.
“It’s just burning plastic that is bad!” R. said.
“Well, it’s because humans add something else to the oil and that makes it bad,” N. said.
“Huh,” I said.
Then R. shared some things he had learned about reusing and recycling, like how you can clean out a sauce jar and use it again.
“So, are we a part of nature? Like, are humans nature?”
We stop in our tracks.
“Huh. N., why do you think yes?”
“Well, we came from monkeys, and the monkeys turned into gorillas, and then the gorillas turned into humans, so, we’re nature.”
“Yeah! I’ve heard that too!” R. agreed.
“Oh yeah! I’ve heard that theory before. Where did you guys learn about that theory?” I said.
“My mom and dad told me,” R. said.
“My uncle told me. He’s a scientist,” N. said. “And actually, he even told me that all of nature came from one tiny creature in the ocean, even smaller than a shrimp! And then that shrimp went on land and became a lizard, and then that lizard became a bird!”
“Oh yeah! I’ve heard about that! Like the shrimp-creature had fins that evolved into feet so it could walk on land?” I asked.
At this point we’re “home”, in the lower play zone near our cabin. It seems no one is in a rush for lunch. We’ve sunk into the wet snow in a sunny spot, and our conversation has circled back to recycling, about how that is good for the planet, which has itself led a discussion about the forest recycles dead trees because mushrooms, which start with a wood germ, grow and eat the dead wood and produce protein for new trees to grow again.
I ask N. if his uncle told him about that or how he learned all that about the forest. He said: “It all started with, I listened to the forest. The forest talks. Everything in the forest talks. Flowers talk. Buds talk. And they told me all this I’m telling you right now. And that’s how I know it.”
And it all started with a shrimp…