Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.



Yesterday wasn’t technically the first day of spring, but it felt like it. As I set off for my weekend battle with the vines that are strangling trees along a small stream, the sky was clear and light blue, the sun warm, and a northwest breeze kept the humidity in check. Absorbed in my work, my arms bleeding from the thorns of the multiflora rose, I suddenly heard the stream beside me. It has been there all along, of course, but I hadn’t been paying much attention. Now, as the water moved through a shallow riffle, I became so struck by the sounds it made that I sat down and listened, watching it flow over glistening stones. I’m not much of a naturalist, but what little I know I have learned from unexpected moments such as these, when the sounds and colors of the natural world gently push themselves into my consciousness. I worry that we are increasingly moving our efforts to understand this world indoors, particularly for children. For reasons that range from the price of insurance to focusing on test scores, schools don’t send their students much into nature anymore, and we have replaced real experiences with computer models and simulations. There are people sounding the alarm on this, particularly David Orr and Richard Louv, whose book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, tells a story in its title. We can learn a lot from our computers, but we can’t learn to love an abstraction. And if we don’t love the natural world, we won’t take care of it.