‘Through a child’s eyes, nature is explored, not revered Nature is a playmate whose friendship is limitless.”
That’s Siena’s View, from the plaque by the boardwalk at the Elfin Forest Preserve in Los Osos. If nature is indeed a playmate, a place to explore and learn from, then the Elfin Forest is a sad playmate indeed.
Fenced in, a child can hardly touch anything before someone tells them that they’re killing it. Where is it all right to climb a tree, maybe learn about the beautiful things in the branches? Where can children now discover that special feeling that makes them want to help preserve places such as the Elfin Forest?
In order to respect something, one must understand it. How is a child supposed to understand nature if he or she cannot first explore? I’m not saying all limitations are bad. That would be falling into the same simplified black-and-white trap that SWAP (Small Wilderness Area Preservation) entered. Children must explore and learn boundaries. Adults must limit but not hinder so much that children don’t know why the place is special.
That’s balance. What I see out there today, fences, limits, no-interaction-if-you-please attitude? That’s not balance. It’s preventing others from learning to love it like you do, excluding possible new cultivators of the place.