Outdoors Fuel Imagination

            Last week my wife and I had the opportunity to baby sit a set of two and a half year old twin boys.  At their age babysitting is more akin to baby chasing so we often retreat to the back yard to avoid anybody getting too close to the road.  This particular day the boys and I were surveying our backyard to see what we could find.  To my amazement the boys came to a screeching halt as we approached a large boxwood forming the border between the back yard and the woods.  After some deciphering, they explained that they wouldnít get near the bush because they believed a bear was sleeping on the other side.  I tried and tried to assure them there couldnít be a bear sleeping behind the bush, but my reasoning is no match for the imagination of a young child. 

            Since that day Iíve pondered the significance of why these two young fellows were dead set against looking behind that bush.  What Iíve boiled it down to is that the boys were providing a perfect illustration of why it is so important to keep nature as a part of our lives.  Nature provides young people with a chance to expand their imagination and dream of the unknown.  In fact, nature offers just the same opportunity to folks of all ages.  Why else do hunters and fishermen have such a hard time getting to sleep on the eve of opening day of their favorite season?  I can recall many nights where I barely even shut my eyes before a big fishing trip.  My imagination would churn up thoughts of just how I was going to land that ten pound bass I was destined to catch.  Where was the nearest weigh station that could certify just how big that trophy was?  Would I get it mounted or release him back to provide that once in a lifetime thrill to some other expert angler?

            A child psychologist I certainly am not, but Iím convinced such experts would tell us that these stretches of the imagination are an important component of our mental development.  They offer us a chance to step outside of reality and experience the world as we wish it could be.  The boysí will surely grow up to learn that there isnít a bear living behind every large bush next to the woods.  However, sportsmen like myself will never grow up enough to quit believing that their next trip to the woods just might be the one theyíve always been dreaming of. 

            Fortunately, no children in Montgomery County are left behind in terms of opportunities to expand their minds via nature.  Large sections of forest, numerous streams and rivers, and a wealth of wildlife make it easy for local children to interact with nature.  In my opinion, this easy access to nature greatly enhances the overall quality of life found here.  Weíre often reminded of how forests help filter the impurities and pollution out of water and air.  But how many times do we appreciate the opportunities these same areas provide for improving our minds?  Thanks to Gus and Cole Iíll be sure to appreciate natureís gifts next time I catch my mind wondering off to some outdoor paradise, or the next time I find a bear sleeping in my boxwood bush.