Embracing nature, and people too

I like Riverview Park. I like going there alone, on my lunch break, with my family and for events. I think it’s a nice little gem, and one of many, in Marshalltown.

This week I decided to head down there during my lunch hour – the plan was to finish a book I was reading – a mere 43 pages left to devour. I had patted myself on the back for self-restraint the previous night. I made myself close my book, or iPad as it were, to get some sleep. I thought, at the time, I can wrap this up on my lunch hour. I can go to Riverview Park.

However, once I arrived my interest in reading was met with a more overwhelming urge to observe. It’s spring! Nature! Look at how green the grass is … and the birds chirping away. This is like waaaaay better than sitting in my office.

I come by my love of nature because of my parents. Both are avid bird watchers, gardeners, Sierra Club members, you name it. They love the Great Outdoors and everything in it. One vivid childhood memory is of my parents overwhelmed with delight at the discovery of a Merlin (falcon species) at a bird feeder near our kitchen window – feasting on a Starling, in somewhat of a bloodbath. Never mind that our kitchen happened to be occupied with my friends, for my birthday party – this was something else! While horrified at the time, I can now see why it was somewhat cool. Both the rarity of seeing a Merlin and to see him up close, choosing to share a meal with us.

So you get the point. I’m a fan of animals, nature, etc. because that’s how I was raised and because as it turns out those are the things I like to pass on to my own kids. Binoculars a staple near our kitchen window? Check.

Back to this week at the park – behold, I see an adorable family of geese. Mom, dad and five little babes. They are just hanging out, waterside, and apparently looking for some goods while repetitively shoving their beaks in the ground.

It was really a delight to get to share a few moments of peace with them. I really needed it. But, then, as oftentimes happens in life – chaos ensued.

A father, and his preschool-aged daughter arrived and proceeded to chase the family of geese for a solid 10 minutes. The pair was very relentless, and as I tried to ignore it and get back into my book, I lost it. What is wrong with you random dad? Why wouldn’t you think to observe the wildlife as I had? What exactly are you hoping to accomplish by chasing the geese?

I knew if I vocalized my criticism to this guy it wouldn’t be well received. I really wanted to be able to show him a different way, but I couldn’t. I knew in my heart that he simply didn’t know any better. He hadn’t been raised as I had, neither did he see the harm of disrupting a creature in its habitat. It also occurred to me that maybe these little guys need to get used to the chase if they are going to live at Riverview Park. Perhaps it comes with the territory.

So as I left, and noted three teenaged boys chasing another pair of geese into the water, I knew I had made the right choice. But I was also glad I knew Marshalltown was soon hosting its Kids to Parks Day and that some youth would leave with a better idea of how to use a park. Surely some would learn how to love the outdoors while having some respect for the critters that live there. Just like my parents taught me.