Natural Wonders

A natural wonder occurs naturally, that is, it was not created or changed by humans. These wonders provide those experiencing them a sense of awe.

During a daily walkabout, students in Grade 8 Science took the time to tell me about the Watermark Project submissions that they were working on, and they challenged me to write my own reflection about a body of water that has left its imprint on me.

Classical elements (earth, water, fire, air) have always been a fascination of mine, and water, in all of its forms, is awe inspiring and calming, as well as energizing and tempestuous. From kayaking in the Atlantic Ocean and experiencing a whale breach not 10 feet away to white water rafting along the Ottawa River and in Costa Rica, bodies of water have challenged me physically and intellectually; it is water that is in control, not us, and to relinquish that control to the elements can be very liberating, but also comes with responsibility.

Over the summer, while travelling with my best friend, I experienced what might be the most beautiful bodies of water, the Plitvice Lakes, located in the oldest and largest national park in the Republic of Croatia and a designated UNESCO World Heritage location. The Croatian government enforces strict rules in terms of how many visitors can be in the park at once and how the environment should be treated to protect this national treasure. On the four hour hike through the national park, I only found one piece of litter that I quickly pocketed to dispose of later.

The shades of blue, the countless waterfalls and the quiet trails were enough to imprint on my mind and soul forever, and they are something that I experienced with someone dear to me, while on an adventure, out of our element. Water should sustain the particular biodiversity of an area, the various species and habitats, and it should fill observers with awe, inspiring them to rethink how to preserve beauty. Just when I thought there could be no other shade of blue, there was, clear, crisp and clean.

Oftentimes, when I travel, I am impressed by what other countries are doing to support the environment, how nature is left to unfold on its own and how humans have constraints placed on them and their behaviours, rather than the other way around. Let’s bring this back to our locale. Walk along the Ganaraska River at any given time, in any given season. The whirlpools, the rush of the current, and the wildlife are beautiful. However, how many objects do you encounter that have no place alongside this body of water? What do you do when you notice these blights? What is your responsibility? With a climate awareness event around the corner in Port Hope, and a school that has been named the Greenest School in Canada, what will you do to make a difference?

We all have images that strike us or symbols that represent moments, places or times in our lives. When inspired by others, or by inspiring others, nature can be preserved if everyone shows it the respect it deserves. We can effect change in a positive way, if we just notice and take the time to do so.

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