Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sanibel Spells Discovery For Children of All Ages

I just finished reading one of the best books I have ever read. Lent to me casually by a friend who just handed it over and said "I think you will like this book", I was engrossed, engaged, enchanted, entertained and enlightened with every word.

Entitled My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell, the book is a true story of an English family who leave the cold and damp of England for the sunny climes of Greece.

The person telling the story is Durrell himself, now an adult looking back, but at the time of the story telling he was an eight year old in the late 1930's. Durrell who grew into adulthood to become a noted zoologist and entomologist certainly got a big boost in his studies on Corfu.

Amazingly, his interest in and enthusiasm for the animals, birds and, especially, insects and amphibians, on the Island are so simply and delightfully told that the reader is just caught up with one "adventure" after another, never feeling the slightest bit of boredom with the non-human world. And, when humans do enter the picture, Durrell's mother and brothers and sister or the locals of Corfu, they bring such a wacky charm with them that you welcome and not reject their presence.

So what has this all got to do with taking a vacation on Sanibel Island?

The answer is all in the word discovery.

Little Gerry may not be typical of every child every where, but certainly a little bit of Gerry does exist in every child every where.

Gerry had no need or opportunity for soccer, little league baseball, meet ups at the mall or computer games. His whole world, and it is a magical and amazing world, is in the birds, the bees, the frogs and sea birds he encounters and claims as his own. And because he is on his own so much of the time, he actually enjoys the times he is
with the grown-ups as he feels he has something of value to talk to them about.

Sanibel Island, too, offers
a world of discovery. How many places are left where an 8 year old can do some roaming on their own? How many places are left where there are discoveries to be made at every turn?

Recognizing that it is not the 1930's, that parenting has changed enormously, that Sanibel is a much more popular and touristed island in the year 2008 than Corfu was in 1933, some things do not change.

The quintessential Sanibel is still a natural universe, one that can fully cater to your child's (and your!) sense of awe. It just takes the time and planning to get there to allow the natural curiosity of a child to emerge.

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