Friday, April 8, 2011

On my nightstand…

Growing up, I was a tomboy. I spent a lot of time outdoors. Turns out, I wasn’t alone. That’s what my generation did.

My backyard was rare in Detroit. Just beyond my back fence lay the woods where we played until we dropped. We went indoors only when we got hungry or heard our mother’s voice calling us home.

It was not a lifestyle my children adopted, no matter how much I urged them and forbade TV.

Last Child in the Woods is a book about that “last generation of Americans to share an intimate, familial attachment to the land and water.” Louv does a remarkable job of exploring the generational change between Americans inclined to play freely outdoors and the indoor generation that followed. Louv explains why the shift is radical and foretells its consequences.

If you are curious, as I am, about the behaviors and yearnings of young people, this book points out rarely discussed cultural issues about American childhood based on an alienation from the natural world.


Amy Dean said...

I remember running around freely, even barefoot, in the fragrant Hawaiian air as a little girl. Around the same time that I was climbing trees and making lays, Adam Walsh's mom left him alone in a store for seven minutes while she shopped and he watched a video game. He was abducted and murdered. In 1983, 38 million people watched the original airing of the movie about him. I've always wondered if that event played a significant role in changing our culture. Nature is vast and wild. Children can get lost and parents lose control. I don't know if Adam's murder had an impact or not, but wolves are associated with the woods.

Patricia Martin said...

What a stunning memory. And such a cultural contradiction. Thanks for this, Amy.