Take time to find your passion during summer
Some of my most prized possessions are not my jewelry, or archery trophy, or even my collection of bean pots. What I most treasure are my nature field guides. I have nine Audubon books that take the coveted eye level spot in my bookshelf. I have collected them over the years, and they are loved not just by me, but are also regularly sought after by my children and husband. My collection often inspires conversation from visiting friends.
Yesterday, I was taking photographs when a beautiful butterfly stopped to visit. I knew it was a swallowtail, but didn’t know the exact species. While he and I had a mini photo shoot, I could hardly wait to get back inside to find out his official name.
Even with the world at your fingertips via the Web, you cannot beat looking up that butterfly you saw for the first time in a butterfly field guide. I love playing detective in narrowing down the specifics. Was there a black dot on the lower wing? Was there one tail or two on the wing? Was the body striped or solid? Then, just when you think you figured it out, you see its habitat range is limited to Arizona. Not it — start over.
I have been doing this sort of detective work since my first Audubon book on Eastern Trees. I am no entomologist, but my love of butterflies has influenced my lifestyle and daily habits. When I go to landscape a new part of my yard; I look for flowers that will attract, shelter and feed my butterfly friends. I recycle and take an active interest in prairie related projects because of my interest in butterflies.
This sort of interest was developed at a young age. It gave me focus for school projects, and inspired learning and research even during the summer. It excites me when children find something they are so passionate about they want to learn about it on their own time. Whether it is lizards, fish, cars, or baking, any subject can inspire a child to learn and apply that knowledge with a worldview.
Developing those passions into usable skills in the form of charity or volunteering will set the stage for success. If children see how their efforts directly influence the environment, they will be driven to succeed. If a youth is fond of frogs, and sees a local stream is in need of being cleaned up to keep a frog’s habitat functional, they will help.
I urge you to nurture a child’s passion. An adult offering encouragement and guidance to see the cause and effect relationship of life matters will aid in their success at life. I finally found my butterfly – a Spicebush Swallowtail. I read they like Joe-Pye Weed nectar as food and sassafras trees to lay their eggs in. Looks like a new landscape project is in the works. Case closed.