Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Ed Bieber: Cleverness

Once, I thought it was enough to be clever.
I led them into woods and wilds and told them
where to step or stop, when to look or listen.
I expected they would pay rapt attention
to my artful anecdotes about plants, animals,
geology, history, ecology. I was the consummate
guide, sure of the terrain with or without a map,
spouting facts and canny patter, the nature savant.
Smell this leaf, I said, or hear the hammering 
    woodpecker.
 
I came to understand I’d been a bad example.
I’d brought the lesson out of doors, freed from walls
and ceilings, but never dropped my mantle of authority,
didactic beside the oak tree instead of the blackboard,
the wise preceptor of truths and facts, as my charges
followed dutifully, or pretended to.
 
What happened to the verve that first drew me to nature –
the fun and adventure, discoveries waiting to be made,
the joy, the hands-on engagement, the wonder of it all?
Why was I screening these children from the opportunity
to sharpen all their senses, learn for themselves, light
    upon
something utterly new, different from what anyone
else, myself included, had ever seen or heard?
 
I have since learned to do more by doing much less.
By just heading out the door, my job is close to fully done.
I start exploring wordlessly, without expectations.
I share my delight and surprise, talk to the trees,
press my hand to them, or my ear, and the pleasure
I take in all of it is all the children need to be informed
…and happily so. I may lead at first, or at random, but
more often than not I drop the reins and hold my tongue.
 
Nature is the master here: boundless, unpredictable,
full of astonishments. The children come next. I follow.

Ed Bieber is the founder and director of The Nature Place Day Camp.

Copyright 2020 Ed Bieber. From Outside/In: On Loving Nature & Living with Parkinson’s (Ragged Sky, 2020).

The Nature Place Day Camp

One comment on “Ed Bieber: Cleverness

  1. Barbara Huntington
    October 20, 2020

    Thank you. Nature is its own teacher. Even in my backyard with California natives, I watch my grandson discover.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on October 20, 2020 by in Environmentalism, Health and Nutrition, Opinion Leaders, Poetry and tagged , , , , .

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