Tuesday, October 05, 2010


I'm currently reading this book...

...which argues that kids today are suffering from nature-deprivation disorder and parents have been frightened from letting their children roam free in wild places and climb trees.

My children, just for the record, do not suffer from this disorder. This is almost entirely thanks to their father, who takes them out camping and boating and hiking and biking and does his part to nature-surplus them all the time, even when I stay home to grade papers.

I do feel that Nora has gotten too much screen time lately and doesn't get enough outdoor time (and, honestly, when I take her to the park, she's climbing on plastic and rubber-coated metal surrounded by bark chips, so that hardly counts). So when Ken suggested on his day off yesterday that we drive the Nebo loop with Nora, I went along and we three had a lovely time. My daughter, for the record, may be a pink princess in some (annoying, say her brothers) ways, but it's comforting to know she can also run up a trail and play in the leaves and get nice and dirty just like my boys did at her age. Plus, as you can see, her outfit blends in so nicely with the foliage that it's clear that she's a born nature gal.

And just in case there was any doubt about our attachment to the great outdoors, we all went back and did the Nebo drive again last night with the boys for family night and took the same hike we had discovered in the morning--up to a hidden grotto. Thanks to outrageously bad traffic (what's with Southbound I-15 lately?!) by the time we got to the cave and waterfall, it was almost totally dark. But, thankfully, Nora had her Sleeping Beauty flashlight with her to save the day. Princess Power and Mother Nature. What a great combination.

And then this morning, Nature reared her ugly head, or more accurately, her ugly swollen, black, hourglass-tattooed belly, as I was getting into my car. This lovely lady (yes, it's a black widow and doesn't she look pregnant to you?) was hanging two feet away from my face as I opened the garage door.

Maybe I am a little frightened about letting my kids roam free in the wild. Now I'm even frightened about letting them roam free in the garage.


Deb said...

Holy Cow! That's a fine way to start the day and give you the shivers for a few minutes.

LaughingElk said...

Awww! She's so pretty!

The black widow spider, I mean. I used to keep black widows as pets.

When I got married, my very tolerant wife put up with the python and the terrarium of carnivorous plants, but she drew the line at poisonous arachnids.

Ann Kroeker said...

I do like that book, and I love that your pink princess can blend well with the colors of fall...or spring.

But I also love that you point out that nature isn't all red and gold leaves and fluttering butterflies.

Nature includes black widow spiders, scorpions and rattlesnakes, and Annie Dillard studies those and ponders them well.

Encountering a black widow does inspire a healthy respect for God's creation, yes?

What do you think...is it worth the risk to get out into God's creation?

LaughingElk said...

WARNING: If you are already creeped out by the spider picture, you might not want to read this comment. (It does, however, get back to Julie's original point.)

This post has made me think about how I was raised, vs how I'm raising my own kids. There's a trade-off of course, to letting your kids have freedom to explore vs the dangers they can get into. I had much more freedom when I was a kid, but there's a good argument that the world is a more dangerous place now.

Speaking of danger, guess what I found outside my front door this morning? Three black widows, two female and one male. Most people would recognize a female black widow, but
here's the male black widow I found.
You can't see it in this shot, but he has an orange hourglass on his underside.

I can't believe my Mom let me keep black widows as pets when I was growing up. Actually, at one time or another, I kept field mice, frogs, lizards, snakes, catarpillars, weevil, wolf spiders and tarantulas. From those experiences, I learned a lot about animal behavior. For one thing, even though it didn't say this in any books available at the time, I discovered that black widow spiders can lay a fully viable egg sack even after they've been living in a jar for two years. I didn't realize this until I woke up one morning to find the jar crawling with thousands of tiny black widow spider babies, all of them small enough to get through the holes in the lid! It creeped me out, and as you might gather, I have a fairly high creep-out threshold. I did NOT tell my very tolerant mother. I took the jar outside, transferred the original spider to another jar, and sprayed the babies with Black Flag.

The thing is, every family is different, and every child is different and what works for one parent may not work for everyone. Finding out what works for your kid is wonderful, but that doesn't mean you've found the One True Parenting Technique That All Good Parents Must Follow.

So what did I do with the spiders I found today? Did I let the kids keep them in their rooms like I did? No, I showed my kids, then I went and squashed the spiders. I guess I'm not as tolerant about letting nature indoors as my parents were.

myimaginaryblog said...

Garages are probably even more dangerous than the great outdoors. That spider's a beaut, but I would not have been happy to encounter it that way. (Or any way other than behind glass.)

Thanks for the very nice comment at my blog. And sorry I missed seeing you at Macey's. I was all in a panic to get my shopping done and get home before the impending! imminent! massive! blizzard.

Oh, did you know I lived in Amman during Ramadan while I was pregnant with Isaac? I would be out all day working (teaching at a private school and doing tutoring on the side) and although everyone told me no one expected a Westerner to observe Ramadan, if I ate in front of anyone it felt rude to me, like eating at church on Fast Sunday. So I tried to be discreet, and would often be about ready to faint by the time I found a quiet corner to munch on crackers out of my purse. Cooked food was hard to come by since the restaurants all closed during the day. I was SO hungry, and the days were SO long. (It must have been summer, because the sun went down around 9 PM.)

Although I remember a devout Muslim woman telling me that the evening meal during Ramadan should be simple and modest, it's also true that in Egypt and other Muslim countries, food sales are at their highest during Ramadan. Most people starve all day and then feast all night--much like Mormons eat a bigger meal on Fast Sunday evenings than if we hadn't been fasting.