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Leave no child inside

By Janisse Ray

I remember one Sunday when my son Silas was 6 years old. He and I spent the entire day in the woods.

That was before he cared that there wasn't television or video games at our house.

Later, when I heard the term "nature-deficit disorder," I would remember days like that Sunday and think maybe I hadn't, as a parent, done everything wrong.

Silas and I slid down the deep ravine behind our house and headed toward the creek, a silver glint beneath magnolia trees. When we got to the only spot that was deep enough to bathe, two red-shouldered hawks commenced to call nearby, alarmed.

"They must be nesting," I said. "Let's see." Silas and I plunged through cinnamon fern and dog hobble until he spotted the nest, 50 feet up.

The parent birds, wild with worry, never stopped circling and crying.

"Let's leave them alone," I whispered.

Here's what Silas and I did the rest of the day. We gathered stones, looking for fossils, then skimmed them. We rubbed clay on our faces. We built a sand fort and floated magnolia-leaf boats downstream. We crossed the creek balanced on a high log.



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