“Every aspect of nature reveals a deep mystery and touches our sense of wonder and awe.” –Carl Sagan
Out taking a walk the other day, I saw a toddler in that familiar crouch, face close to the ground, studiously examining an ant colony. As a parent, I’ve watched my children become fascinated with something newly noticed in nature and now I have the joy of observing this in my grandchild. But the operative word here is new.
What happens when ants on the sidewalk are no longer new?
The answer, for most of us, is that they stop inducing wonder.
But does that make them any less wonderous?
Of course not.
A sense of wonder is often lost in adulthood. In large part because some of the most wonderous things in our world are also the most commonplace, making them easy to overlook. Like ants.
When researching and writing my latest book, The Science of Weather and Climate: Rain, Sleet and the Rising Tide, I reclaimed some of that wonder as I looked deeper into those commonplace occurrences in nature that I had taken for granted. Like clouds, and wind, and thunderstorms. My research allowed me to not only to see the science behind these individual weather events, but also to see how each of them are related. I learned about the patterns of global currents of both air and water that help keep the Earth’s temperatures in balance. About how changes in air pressure cause wind, and that a cumulonimbus cloud, made up of microscopic water droplets, can grow to a height of 43,000 feet and can hold more than 150,000 tons of water.
Writing this book was a gift that has brought renewed wonder in the world around me, and has made me tune into that world in a new way.
You might be thinking, so what? What does this have to do with me?
I want to inspire you to go out and search for your own nature-wonder. That wonder is available to all of us if we just take a little time and put in a little effort. Just look out your window.
But I encourage you to take your observations a step further. Do a little research. It can be as easy as going to the library and getting a children’s book on weather or finding a documentary on the internet. Keep a nature journal, set up your own weather station, read nature guides and biographies of naturalists.
I guarantee you, the more you know about the awesomeness of the natural world that surrounds us, the more your wonder will grow.
And the more too, will your desire to protect it. But that is another post.