Back to Nature (Published on - March 23, 2005)
We love our children – can’t you tell?
Photo by Rick Tremmel
Walter (black haw) Viburnum obovatum. This is one of the more common plants that grows in hammocks, thickets and swamp margins in all sections of Florida and along the coast of South Carolina.
There are many ways we can show our children we love them.
Deep inside the forest there’s a door into another land.
Here is our life and home.
We are staying here forever in the beauty of this place all alone.
We keep on hoping.
Maybe there’s a world where we don’t have to run.
Maybe there’s a time we’ll call our own, living free in harmony and majesty.
Take me home. Take me home. (Theme from Grizzly Adams)

While living in Canada, my daughter and I spent many an evening cuddled up against the cold in front of the small fireplace reading brochures on life in Florida. It seemed like paradise and we wondered why would anyone want to live anywhere else? It was Jennifer’s dream to someday move to Florida, but she had her own ideas about what she was going to do when we finally got settled. Of course she wanted to get a great tan and walk along the beach with her long blonde hair gently blowing with each gulf breeze, but at 9 years old she was already the epitome personification of a true conservationist.

You would have thought she had a personal relationship with Dian Fossey (Gorillas in the Mist) from the way she spoke of her as if she was an old friend. As well, she had a “not so secret” desire to be one of Marty Stouffer’s (Wild Kingdom) kids and help him raise those baby otters and raccoons he was always rescuing. Her fictional hero was, of course, Grizzly Adams.

She was a member of ecological teen clubs, wrote letters about saving eagles and other endangered species, but most talked about and desired was that she wanted to be involved with the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary in Indian Shores working with Ralph Heath saving pelicans. She had me help her write him a letter back in the ’70s. This was her dream … a dream never realized, for her active life was cut short by a drunk driver.

Our children are a product of us, our genes, heritage, anger and love, malice and mercy, likes and dislikes, religion and beliefs, but are we not also a product of our children? Our lives become inseparable. Where does one begin and one end?

I love spring. I love spring in Florida. This is my home. I’m realizing that I’m living my daughter’s dream, as well as mine. It will never be the same without her, but people we love become such a part of us that they remain with us even after their physical presence is gone. April 3 is Jennifer April’s birthday. She was a child of the spring equinox and earth day. She is my icon and strength to keep on working toward a tolerant humanity, toward equal rights for all living things.

She used to say, “The wild things have no voice.” Wildlife beings can’t lobby governments or write newspaper articles or protest on corners about losing their homes. We are all responsible. We are the caretakers. It’s too easy to blame governments and big business for the way our planet is declining, but we must be aware that we’re borrowing this earth from our children. Will we leave it a better place? If you don’t take care of our earth, do you care for your children?

Think about this. What if this April everyone planted just one native plant in a garden? Wouldn’t this one act speak to our children that we care for them and love them and that no matter what they will always be a part of us as we are a part of them, back to nature?

Karen can be reached at

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