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Spring-0705I am not a conversationalist.  I go through life as monosyllabic as possible.  I greatly prefer to listen.  I lead a mostly silent existence.  Just the way I like it.  Mute and demure.

Ages ago, when I was wee, however, I fancied myself a micro David Attenborough and would wax on about all things Nature- to any poor sap that would listen.  Happily, I quelled that odious impulse as a craggy old adult.

But I was rattled, recently.  A rambunctious lad, the nephew of a friend, challenged my stance of stolid silence.  Oh, he did all he could to crack through my laconic exterior.  And now, since then, things have not been quite the same…

Spring00-0647It had been another blazing day in the furnace, I mean Florida, when we picked up my chum and her nephew (an unexpected addition) for a jaunt down to the nearest freshwater spring for a swim in the scintillating, gemmy waters amongst the gars and the manatees.

The Lad, a boy of nine years, was quite a force to be reckoned with, and was also armed with a gargantuan bag of sweets…a child-shaped tornado, thus, swirled around in the backseat all the way to the spring.

Right away, I saw the child was bent on destruction and found imitating a demolition truck to be his favourite hobby.  When released from the car, he immediately set out to ravage the local plant-life and spurt apple-piece projectiles at squirrels.  Then the child became distracted by something shiny and sharp and moved on to that.

Spring-0648

Here he is, attempting to tear off this innocent manatee’s flipper

Well, I had to divert his attention, somehow.  His auntie (my chum) was hopeless. And Sir was terrified of the child.  Sir, wide-eyed and staring, quivered there like a soldier just returned from the trenches.  Up to me.

The human-shaped tempest then plucked up a massive palm frond and began poking at people, plants and now insects.  A palm frond is very stiff and sharp, I will have you know.  It is a joy to be prodded by one.

“Right, time to go gator-hunting,” I said mildly, handing the lad my pack with two giant lemon-and-black flippers poking out.

“Wear this, it will make you look like a pro-snorkeler and very cool,” I said.

He put on the pack and applied the goggles I had handed to him and we trotted toward the aqueous solution up ahead.

Spring-0780“Drop the palm sword and you can wear the snazzy flippers,” I said as we mounted the cold metal stairs.

He agreed and we lapsed into the refreshingly cool depths.

Of course, he picked up another, later…

After I inspected the fish-life darting about the shallow spring bed, I showed the lad how to get within a few inches of a massive, half-blind, leopard-banded gar fish.  Then I showed him where gators had made depressions for sleeping and where a snapping turtle was most-likely to be found.

Spring-0728Then we swam to the spring-head, where the gurgling waters splashed the deep, crumbling sides of the blonde limestone surrounding us.  I took him into a misty alcove where the walls of the limestone were black and especially dank and murky- and where the spiders loomed.

spider04“That one is bigger than my hand!” exclaimed the lad in bulbous-eyed terror.

There is no greater joy than scaring innocent children.

I rambled on and on, by that point, about the flora and fauna of the spring, not realising that I had not blathered that.much with another human being in years.

Day-0655It was in that moment that I noticed something was different- the tempest child was no more.  He had been replaced by a polite, soft-voiced micro-scientist.  He was transfixed by my babbling nature lecture and was not only respectful and courteous, but absolutely fascinated with the wonders surrounding us.

…Huh?

In that moment of realization, I was reminded of a quote from David Attenborough-

Spring-0887“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.”
– David Attenborough

Spring-0761My chum and Sir were long abandoned by this point, unable to keep up with the two science-heads conducting their research up and down the spring, as it bled into the tea-stained river at one end, and gurgled up, fresh and clear, from the inner depths at the other.

Spring-0681We chattered incessantly, analysing and absorbing every detail of our surroundings, until a coy mist swathed the now chilly waters.  The solemn light slipped away and we were forced to clamber up out of the watery wonderland before a canoeing ranger could pummel us.

As we dripped back toward the exit, the young scientist suddenly stopped and turned to look up at me and said something quite disturbing.

Spring-0904“I have never met anyone who thought science and math were cool, before,” he said.

I stood agog.

“What, not even your teachers?”

“No, they hardly teach anything about it, and no one thinks it’s cool.  But I think science and math are awesome!”

And that is what left me rattled.

Spring-0882My thoughts recently turned back to those words when I was reading the blog of a blogging chum, Rebecca Budd, and I came across a tribute she wrote to a pioneer of animal rights- Humanity Dick & The Donkey

I found the article affecting and enthralling and wrote a comment to Rebecca, to which she left me this grand reply-

“What I found most interesting was that Richard Martin’s determination to fight for animal rights had its genesis in his childhood. His mother’s love of animals ignited the spark of compassion in a small boy. It is a reminder that one generation transfers ideas, values, dreams to the next. Our actions and conversations DO make a difference now and in the future yet to be formed.”

Spring-3231I do not know if what the lad and I discussed that day left an indelible mark in his life but his words certainly affected me profoundly.  He cracked through.

shell-bw-8402Perhaps, adding a few more syllables to the conversations in my life, here and there, will not kill me, after all- every now and then.

Beach- bw-9070

Home at last

“No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced”
– David Attenborough

Happy wandering,

Autumn Jade

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