Toys of Nature

October 1, 2010

We try not to over-indulge our five-year-old son. Still, Atticus has ended up with many more things than any kid can keep track of, much less play with. I could haul away all his toys, and he wouldn’t complain — as long as he was lording over this small creek winding its way to the Pacific Ocean. Each day of our Oregon coast vacation last week, the creek was the center of his universe. At night he wondered whether the dam he built was still there. He wanted to know where the water comes from and ends up. (China seemed an acceptable answer.) He wanted to put a note in a bottle and send it seaward.

Now, back in the humdrum of our routine existence, I could offer to buy him any of the 1,361,605 toys sold on No doubt he would prefer instead the sand, flowing water, rocks, and freedom to shape them as he wishes. Or do they shape him?