How is the experience of listening to, attending to, live music different from listening to a recording? I can be very moved by recorded music, moved to sing along or dance. A particular piece of recorded music can become a favorite, and listening to it is like wearing your favorite pair of jeans because they fit your shape so well. Live music is never exactly that pair of jeans but it can be the experience of that pair of jeans when you try them on for the first time and, oh wow, they are just what you needed. Steve Guttenberg, who writes about audio, discusses the ways recorded music differs from live and asks, “What do you think? Is recorded music better than live music?” For me, all the ingredients in a live experience combine to make it more, more powerfully stirring—the sound, expressions of the artists and other sights, feel of the location, smells, and maybe tastes.
The same stirring as when I blow on the spherical dandelion head, feeling my cheeks stretch out with the force of my breath and that same force pushes the tiny seed parachutes off the seed head, into the air, carrying my wish with them. Being outside is a sensory immersive experience teaching us about the elements of weather events, the sounds and smells of our environment, and how we have to exert force to make changes.
Using technology, Neil Bromhall takes us to a detailed view of this familiar plant over time with his time lapse videos, “Time lapse Dandelion flower to seed head” and “Dandelion flower and clock blowing away time lapse .”
Look at the way the plumed seeds or pappus open as the dew dries off, something we might never sit still enough to watch happen in real time. For really close up, but still, photographs that allow us to see the intricate details of how seeds are produced, visit Brian Johnston’s page, “A Close-up View of the Wildflower “Dandelion” (Taraxacum officinale). He also shared an Emily Dickinson poem (with vocabulary that is challenging and exactly, Dickinsonian, right).
I am happy to be alive in a world where I can access nature directly with clothing technology that makes it comfortable, and to access nature in a different way through other technologies shared by other nature enthusiasts and naturalists.
The authors of Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature, Jon Young, Ellen Haas, and Evan McGown, advocate for us to use nature as a living teacher to allow children to “soak up the language of plants and animals as naturally as any of us learned our native language.” I like the way they require one to get to know the people we mentor and “Look for their edges: the edge of their comfort zone, the edge of their awareness, the edge of their knowledge, the edge of their experience. Then, you can stretch and pull them to a new edge, and then another, deeper and deeper into a sense of comfort and kinship with the wildness of the natural world.” Their animal senses exercises, Owl Eyes, Deer Ears, Raccoon Touch, Dog Nose, and Fox Walk, are practiced and used to expand our personal observation abilities.
The Coyote’s Guide describes how using a “sit spot,” a special place in nature where one can be “comfortable with just being there, still and quiet. In this place, the lessons of nature will seep in.” Educators Karen Dvornich, Diane Petersen, and Ken Clarkson write about having children record their sit spot experience and observations in a science notebook and later contribute the data to a citizen science program.
If you are lucky to have in-person or through-technology connections to a local naturalist such as Alonso Abugattas, the Capital Naturalist who posts informative videos taken during first hand experiences in nature, you can use the information to plan your program’s outdoor experiences in nature.
Whether you express excitement along with your children as they observe a group of ants building along a sidewalk crack or help them use the Coyote’s Guide animal senses exercises to make observations from a sit spot, you are connecting them to live nature, connections they may later follow up on using technology-recorded nature that extends their senses. And offering both recorded music and live singing will enrich your children too!