Given what we see going on around us, let's take a break from the usual format this Saturday to give one great big thumbs up to adults who use the changing of the seasons to spark in a child an interest in nature and the outdoors.
The end of August brings us to the cusp of a new season. This is a great time for Mom and Dad, or grandparents, aunts and uncles or a favorite neighbor to make children pause and take notice of the magic of Mother Nature's preparations for autumn.
You do not have to have special knowledge about nature nor, even, a particular passion for it yourself. You just need to be observant and encourage your child to be the same.
If you take the time to look for it in coming weeks, you will begin to see a change in the color of leaves as the shortening of daylight hours slows the production of green chlorophyll.
Point that out.
You will see, if you stop to notice, birds starting to flock.
Point it out.
There is a changing of the guard in the wildflowers you see growing in fields and along roadsides this time of year. Summer's flowers have gone to seed and autumn blooms are coming along.
Point it out.
You don't need to know the names to those flowers. That is not what is important. Though if you are both interested, there are reference books at the library and, even better, the Little Explorers program and public learning series at the Jamestown Audubon Center.
But first, you just need to help children take the time to notice the natural world around them. Help them discover it is in constant change, and that the change is both mysterious and predictable - and a signal of what comes next.
Show them that vegetable gardens are heavy with produce. Tell them that in September, apples will be ripening in the trees. We already are noticing a cooling of temperatures, especially overnight, and the out of doors simply smells different this time of year. Comment on that in front of them.
It does not matter that what you might point out to a child is unrelated to autumn beginning to overtake summer. What's important is that you take notice and that you share it.
We believe wholeheartedly that when children see something is important to an adult they like or admire, that same thing becomes important to them.
An interest in nature and the out of doors is a gift from you that will remain fresh and vibrant their while whole life through.