By Lindsay Eckert
Tribune lifestyle editor
“No litterers allowed,” stated the sign I drew up with peace signs and flowers with extra power that adorned my bedroom door as a kid. Growing up, I was a litter patrol lady. Toss a banana out the window? You were going to face the wrath of a 6-year-old. Leave a soda can at the park? Oh my, a mistake you don’t want to make. My cousins would purposely provoke such opportunities for nothing more than to get the entertaining spiel of keeping the Earth safe from a 6-year-old. I encouraged institutionalizing recycling in our household and double-checked trash cans to make sure recycling objects didn’t make their way into the wrong places. I took trips in my Barbie jeep to make sure trash wasn’t finding a home where it shouldn’t in my neighborhood. Although, thankfully, I’ve eased my uptight take on trash I couldn’t help but celebrate Monday’s Earth Day and encourage other kids to get passionate about more than iPads. Earth Day may be about creating a cleaner world, but it can also be about enriching your immediate world by experiencing it. Switch out the remote for sticks and illuminate your imagination with the feel of the great outdoors. The image of how magical a natural scene can be played out for my boyfriend and I last summer. We were out walking on the Monon in Indianapolis when we saw two little boys with imaginations in full drive playing outside. We sat on a bench and ended up watching their imaginary worlds play out in a reality we realized was surprising: This shouldn’t be as fascinating as it is to watch, this is how kids used to play. In fact, this is how we used to play. However, in a world of computers creating the imaginations, originality has become a sight we not only rarely see, it’s a sight we actually crave to see. And the two boys we watched served up a hearty portion of originality as they lived out a Civil War battle and told us about their travels. One of them told us: “We’re the good guys, we’re for the north and we’re passing through to our next battle.” They used sticks for weapons, the lawn was their battle ground and the Monon trail was their crossing path: “We packed hardtack and have to get going so we can pitch a tent by sundown.” One of the boys told us —after we asked where their next battle was. I asked what hardtack was: “It’s what we eat, it’s made with flour and water and we can carry it in our bags.” At that point, we decided to settle into our seats and watch the educational experience unfold.
It’s been nearly a year since we witnessed the reenactment, but we still talk about it. We still are completely fascinated by what these two 8-year-olds were able to accurately imagine with their only tools being what nature provided for them. They created whole lives, scenes and events without one flip of a switch or one push of a button and it was inspiring. So, for Monday celebrate simplicity and push play on nature.
[friday] editor/ Putting nature on repeat