On the first day of class I ask my Concepts of Nature students to answer the roll call with something that interests them about nature. "I like to hunt," says one, and another says "I like mountains." Then it's "mountains and water," then "mountains and snow."
Several say they like colors--of flowers and trees, of sunrise and sunset, of changing seasons. One says "I like raptors" and I tell her about the hawks and eagles I see on my daily drive along the river.
I tell the mountain-lovers that we'll soon be following Thoreau up Mount Ktaadn and Isabella Bird up a Hawaiian volcano, following John Muir into a wind-storm in the forest and Norman Maclean into some of the best fly-fishing waters in the world. We'll let William Cullen Bryant introduce us to the blue of the fringed gentian and W.S. Merwin show us the wonders of rare and precious native Hawaiian trees.
I wish we could take a field trip to all these places, all the times our authors will show us this semester, but that would require a lifetime of rambling. We have a mere 15 weeks to climb these rigorous and challenging mountains, so we'd better get moving. Let's open our books and get ready to see the world.