The Sense of Wonder

If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from our sources of strength.

— Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson was an extraordinary, brave, and passionate woman. Words simply cannot describe her incredible courage, dedication, and love of the natural world.  Her work, her books, her adventures and her stewardship has inspired my life in countless ways.


As a child, my sister and I spent hours in the woods near our home. My mother would shoe us out the door first thing in the morning and we would head to our special and magical world. Time stood still as we built miniature villages, roads, houses, and furniture…for the little elves and fairies that we knew lived in our forest. We believed that they traveled throughout our vast wilderness (6 acres!) and would need places to stay and rest. We use all natural materials in our construction. Sticks, moss, grass, stones, bark, pine needles…Our towns were very elaborate and detailed.

Like nature herself…

We had that sense of wonder. We lived and breathed wonder. My memories of my childhood are filled with that wonder.  I didn’t know anything about Rachel Carson then.

As an adult my path came across Rachel Carson. And I knew exactly what she meant.

When I became a teacher, I wanted to instill that very sense of wonder in my students. Every chance I got, we went outside. We observed nature…up close and in detail. We explored and discovered.  We sketched and wrote about the tress, the river, the pond. The meadow. We wondered.

I want them to love our world…and grow up wanting to care for and protect it.

When I became a mother, I was determined to nurture that same sense of wonder in my son. He too spent hours outside..building forts, jumping in leaves, climbing trees, making bark boats that he floated down the stream. A boy’s sense of curiosity and wonder. Together we played, we hiked, we explored and we discovered.  He is 18 years old now, but when not in school or working…he is outside. He loves to swim at the water holes we swam in and fish at all the places we kayaked. I hope he never forgets. That he remembers how happy these simple things made him.


The sense of wonder is still inside me.  The world around me is still magical and beautiful.

7 thoughts on “The Sense of Wonder

  1. I have written about taking my grandchildren creek walking. I have had fun for the past 6 years with the 8 yr. old and the ones who are younger are coming more often too. My funny part of a post in the early summer or late spring, not sure when I wrote this, was my 4 yr. old grandson, waist high in water, “stirring the pot” with a stick and making the clear water turn muddy. I asked him what he thought it looked like, after he used those words, he laughed and said, “I was trying to make soup but I guess it looks more like hot chocolate!”

  2. Oh, hope it is okay to add, I think in your giving your students and your son the sense of wonder, you gave them the most beautiful gifts! I like the way you included Rachel Carson,in her quote and a short tribute to her skills, too.

    • Thanks Robin!! I hope they see them as gifts…It worries me sometimes when all my students talk about is computers, TV, iPhones, video games etc. I hope that our excursions and learning outside of the classroom stay with them forever.

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