by Janice Hunter, Children’s Garden Volunteer, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
“Did you see anything yet? Have they hatched …?” This was the way my teammates welcomed each other to the Garden last week when we met as volunteers in the Lewis Ginter Children’s Garden. Of course, I had not seen, but was anxious to hear what they were talking about. I am new to the Richmond area and did not know they were speaking of the renowned bald eagle, named Virginia, her mate, James, and the eggs they so tentatively watched over somewhere in the county, along the James River. I was told about a web camera, known as the Richmond Eagle Cam, which is mounted high in a Virginia pine above an eagle’s nest. My Garden friends explained how scientists use the camera to watch over the nest and the eagle activities as they protect and guard their eggs and that these images are shared with the public via the Internet. This effort is part of vast research being done by the Center for Conservation Biology as it studies threatened and endangered species such as the bald eagle. I couldn’t wait to get home and share my story with others who did not know about the eagles, but would be happy to watch along with me. It was thought by many that eggs would hatch within hours of when I first heard the news. And along with many, I watched, and I waited.
As I waited, I thought about the Garden, and how it attracts people with interests that are, well, interesting. As I watched, by computer, I was reminded that there are natural wonders occurring all around me. The people that I meet at the Garden create connections to those places. This inspires me as I volunteer to look up and pay attention to the wildlife that surrounds me, wherever I happen to be. Well, the eggs did hatch. The Eagle Cam captured some beautiful images of the eaglets as they appeared and then were cared for by their guardians. Their story turned, quickly, to one of survival, a drama that would keep me on edge for days.
While in the Garden this week, I thought to look up and wondered what might be happening in the trees above me. I noticed the branches and the patterns they created against a clear blue sky. I felt the fragrant breeze tickle the tip of my nose and caught the essence of the ‘Gigantic Star’ daffodils wafting from the garden beds nearby. And then I heard the sound of laughter coming from the branches of the old mulberry tree. I knew that if I moved quickly, I might capture it all on film. It is beautiful to witness young life at play in the branches of a tree and a joy to see the ways our visitors are cared for by the guardians who bring them there. They are a reminder to me that we are connected to wonders all around us, wherever we may happen to be. We only need to remember to look for them.
“Only those who look with the eyes of children can lose themselves in the object of their wonder.” -E.Arnold