Last week the second graders were invited to go on a field trip with the older kids for a day. The school was quiet with only Kindergartners and first graders. There wasn’t anyone to share lunch and yard duty with, so I decided to have a picnic on the playground. This way I could watch the kids play while getting a little relaxation in.
We sat on the grass in the warm sun with sack lunches the cook prepared for us. My daughter is one of my students this year; she brought her tortoise Sheldon to show and tell. We decided to take him out to the grass during our picnic to let him exercise and enjoy the sun with us. The students LOVED watching him creep through the field. For a slow fellow, Sheldon can really get away from us when we’re not looking!
A bald eagle suddenly showed up and circled about 50 feet above us. At first, I was telling the kids to look up and see him. “How cool is that?” I said. Then my volunteer pointed out that the eagle was probably scouting out the tortoise. Several students rushed over to their little reptile friend to protect him.
Oh my goodness! That could have turned into the worst teaching day of my life! Afterwards I tried to imagine how I’d console a dozen crying first graders when a cherished pet was toted off to be eaten by a bald eagle. Thank God, the eagle quickly flew off into the trees without dropping in for lunch!
My little country kids weren’t all that impressed with the bald eagle. They see them all the time. Between recesses deer hangout in our playground and nibble on grass and the crimson maple tree that we planted. One day they’ll think back and recognize how lucky they are to have grown up in the mountains where wild things, human and nonhuman, share the playground.