Splash into your senses

The Covington News - - Local News -

I like to walk home in the dark.

It is a short walk across a field and through the woods from my cousin’s home, but I feel like my senses are am­pli­fied for that short time.

Some­times I just stop and take it all in. The stars seem brighter, the fields glow in the moon­light, and deer some­times snack un­der the pear tree.

I smell honey­suckle, ripened ap­ples, or freshly mown grass.

An­i­mals scut­tling through the dead leaves catch my at­ten­tion, as do the calls of birds out hunt­ing.

The dewy grass reaches over the edge of my san­dals.

The air is of­ten so hu­mid and sweet I can al­most taste it. When the “scup­plins” (scup­per­nongs) are ripe, I’ll pop a few in my mouth.

With each pass­ing week, the sights, sounds and smells change.

How does be­ing in na­ture am­plify our senses, or en­cour­age us to use all of our senses rather than just a few?

In “Last Child in the Woods” au­thor Richard Louv dis­cusses this phe­nom­e­non in re­la­tion to chil­dren, and how chil­dren not ex­posed to na­ture are af­fected neg­a­tively later in life.

He sug­gests that while years ago many youth grew up play­ing and work­ing out­doors, to­day we are elec­tri­fied.

I am no dif­fer­ent; most nights my win­dows are closed and I hear the air con­di­tioner run­ning, in­stead of the crick­ets’ song fill­ing the air over the sound of the at­tic fan when I grew up.

I spend a lot of time in front of the com­puter and other elec­tron­ics.

At night, many of us have to strain to see the stars over the bright lights flooded into our skies. While liv­ing in Colum­bus, I could barely see the stars at all most nights.

Most of us are not go­ing to give up air con­di­tion­ing or go back to work­ing a field, but I think it is im­por­tant for par­ents and ed­u­ca­tors to con­sider ways to reg­u­larly re­claim the use of our senses and those of the chil­dren we teach.

On Wed­nes­day, I was pleased when fam­i­lies braved the wet weather for a day of messy sci­ence fun on the square.

They lis­tened to hiss­ing cock­roaches with a pro­fes­sor from Ge­or­gia Perime­ter Col­lege.

We tasted the sug­ary sweet “ed­i­ble aquifer” from Keep Cov­ing­ton/New­ton Beau­ti­ful, while learn­ing about that sweet, pure un­der­ground wa­ter source. Brave youth felt the scales of a snake from the Char­lie El­liott Wildlife Cen­ter. Fin­gers felt the gooey putty formed when bo­rax is mixed with glue.

Bare toes felt the poly­mer quick­sand as they at­tempted to cross the tub of corn­starch and wa­ter without sink­ing. Feet and an­kles felt the pull as they tried to step out of the quick­sand too quickly.

Eyes ad­mired the flow­ers a 4-H’er planted in soil mixed with hy­dro­gel poly­mers to aid in wa­ter con­ser­va­tion.

Hands were dipped in soapy, sudsy liq­uid in at­tempts to make square bub­bles, re­flect­ing the many colors of the rain­bow.

Eyes darted to the sky as cola and Men­tos ex­ploded into the air.

It did not mat­ter how young or old you were or what field you worked in — every­one had a chance to ex­plore their senses through sci­ence at 4-H Na­tional Youth Sci­ence Day.

How it could hap­pen to rain on the day we were out to teach sci­ence and wa­ter con­ser­va­tion, I could not fig­ure.

Per­haps it hap­pened for a rea­son, though, be­cause it seems we were able to use even more of our senses as we ex­plored more than pre­pared sci­ence ex­per­i­ments.

Each or­ga­ni­za­tion par­tic­i­pat­ing put a lot of time, ef­fort and money into pre­par­ing beau­ti­ful dis­plays they had to leave packed away.

Most adults, pre­sen­ters and par­ents alike, prob­a­bly wished they were in a warm, dry of­fice for once.

At the end of the day, I re­al­ized my pon­cho was do­ing more to pro­tect my car seat from wet clothes than to pro­tect me from the rain.

I nearly stopped a few 4-H’ers from jump­ing into a par­tic­u­larly large pud­dle on the square, then re­al­ized they were al­ready soaked through any­way.

Be­sides, how bet­ter can we ex­plore our senses and na­ture than to run through the rain or make a spec­tac­u­lar splash in the pud­dles?

Got goo?: Alyssa McDaniel, a 10-year-old New­ton County res­i­dent, gazes at the slime she cre­ated from a com­bi­na­tion of Bo­rax and glue dur­ing 4-H Na­tional Youth Sci­ence Day held on the Cov­ing­ton Square Wed­nes­day.

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