On Saturday I took my 8 year old grandson, Stanley, to the Robeson Museum and Science Center in Binghamton, NY, just a short ride from our home in Endicott. They were featuring an exhibit called "Nature Trek." It showed animals in their natural habitats and why those habitats, and the animals themselves, were in danger of extinction.
Stanley is all about animals. He loves them all, from the tiniest insect to the biggest mammal. He especially loves birds, and he was not disappointed when he saw the exhibit. If anything, he was so excited that he didn't know where to look first. The museum had outdone itself with its life-like replicas of natural environments, from forests and wetlands, to prairie fields and frozen tundra. They even had a beaver dam. Each exhibit explained what that particular habitat provided for the animals that made it their home and why it was being depleted, either due to cutting down trees to build developments, or climate change, or pollution. They also provided computers to bring up videos on the walls of endangered birds and their sounds. Stanley was in heaven. When I asked him to tell me which animal he liked the most, he answered with no hesitation: "Hedwig."
Hedwig is the pet owl owned by the infamous boy wizard, Harry Potter, hero of 7 books and 8 movies of the same name. The wizarding world that Harry lives in is magical to say the least, and magic has its basis in the natural world of animals, plants, and all of the elements (air, wind, earth, fire, water). Is it any wonder, that Stanley, a Harry Potter fan, would also be drawn to the beauty and magic of the natural world.
I often think people forget that the natural world is magical. Watch a Louie Schwartzberg slow motion nature photographic video if you don't believe me. It will take your breath away. Instead of kids spending their time glued to a screen, turn them loose with a pair of binoculars in a park or on a hiking trail and let them experience the magic first hand. Watching baby birds taking their first, tentative steps outside the nest, seeing how the clouds move across the sky, or watching a murmuration of a flock of starlings like a beautiful aerial ballet ... that's magic!
I have promised Stanley another trip back to the Robeson after school is out. They also have a planetarium and we have a date to watch the stars together and explore the Universe. Awesome!
And so it is.