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Lucky Us

Brigid Fox | Brevard, NC

I had the joy of taking the Acorn Class to the WNC Nature Center on a field trip.  It was wonderful!!  Breaking the day down into pieces sheds light on so many gifts we have here at Mountain Sun and the region we live in.  The order of this list does not indicate anything other than how the day unraveled in my mind…

I am so grateful for the Nature Center.  The care, knowledge, and enthusiasm their staff offers to not only us as visitors, but also the animals that live there, is obvious and genuine. Our guide, Lauren, was kind in working with the children and, of course, full of all the information that we came to learn.  She was patient and intuitive in how she moved the class along.  This gave everyone an opportunity to really let the experience sink in, as well as not finding time to lose focus.

I happened to have recently visited another zoo, so it was hard not to make the comparisons in my mind.  The animals at the Nature Center were not quite as exotic, however, they had space that looked natural (or was natural for that matter) which was different from the tight quarters I saw in the other zoo.  The animals also seemed to be known by the keepers.  The information posted at the different habitats often identified the individual animals by name.  I noticed how this made a connection for the children as they tried to identify which was which.  I was impressed seeing them relax into watching the animal once they made that connection, rather than run to the next animal.  It was heartening to witness them relating to another individual, especially as different as they were.

The weather was so beautiful, no rain, no big wind, not too hot, not too cold – all was juuussst right!  We were able to take our time strolling through the exhibits and then share a sweet picnic lunch down by the Swannanoa River.  No rushing, just enjoying the sunshine and the pleasant company.

The children were so much fun to watch as they made use of their play spaces.  There was order, which is often mandated by adults, however, in this case, the children made the choices without direction – standing in line, taking turns, following rules of games, discerning appropriate use of unfamiliar items.  There was leadership throughout the morning and afternoon with a particularly memorable inclusive all-call made by one of the Acorns that brought everyone together to be sure all were on the same page.  There was kindness in the many help ups, patient waits, listening, and willingness to join in when invited.  None of these should be taken for granted.  They were all child led and child fulfilled, a harbinger of good times ahead.

Given the beauty of the day and the timing of our experience, we were able to have a circle of thanks.  It was full of heartfelt sentiments from the children, gratitude for our drivers, gratitude for the Nature Center, gratitude for each other, gratitude for everything.  Allowing time for the children to reflect is such a healthy habit.  If nothing else, it brings awareness to the gifts we have around us or the challenges we face.  In a circle, we can feel the celebration of the day and feel the support of the community we are a part of.

In the words of Louis, the swan from The Trumpet of the Swan by EB White, we are “lucky to inhabit such a beautiful earth”.  This to me includes all the places we share, all the people we share it with, and of course all the animals who also make their homes with us.

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