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AK PENINSULA: On Seeing Nature Again Through a Child's Eyes
10 Region, March 9, 2005
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Sometimes it's hard to picture the beauty of the Alaska Peninsula Refuge, especially if you rely on others? opinions. Last week the sky was gray; heavy with a coming snow and the tundra exposed and brown. I was reminded of when I first moved here and people described the Refuge in harsh terms like "flat", "ugly", and "no trees." But living here, I?ve learned that if you take the time you will see life everywhere. While eagles and ravens soar, magpies, gray jays, chickadees and redpolls are busy bouncing in the willows. There is beauty if you choose to see it.

While judging drawings for our annual Migratory Bird Calendar Contest, the first entry I found was from a local kindergarten student. Her vivid picture reflected the joy she found in nature. But a note on the back of her drawing caught my eye: "Kadee was killed in a plane crash before she was able to sign the entry form.? I stood there for several seconds staring at the note and at the poster. The little girl and her two sisters, Samantha & Jesse, were killed two weeks earlier when their small plane crashed into Lake Clark. Her sisters? entries were in the box as well. The girls were from Port Alsworth, a small, tight-knit community next to Lake Clark. Their teacher entered their drawings at the urging of classmates. The teacher said, "the girls were very proud of their work" and Jesse, age 7, particularly liked her bird drawings.

We see what we choose to see. Kadee, Jesse and Samantha chose to see beauty; their childlike wisdom allowed them to see through the "obvious camouflage? of the tundra. Now they share their joy with others through our calendar contest. Like the wild things around us, we?re resilient but fragile. There are limited opportunities to witness things that inspire us, so we must take the time and choose to see them.

Contact Info: Kevin Painter, , kevin_painter@fws.gov



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