When I was a kid, my parents would bring me to Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve to walk the trail. Colerain looked a little different 30 years ago: not so many restaurants and maybe a few less car dealerships, but Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve has remained unchanged. All the buildings are the same, save the new bathrooms. The trail has been repaved, but it takes the same meandering course through the woods and around the pond and prairie. The pond was dug nearly 50 years ago; the deck on the south side is new, but its banks remain the same. It is even possible that there’s a turtle there today that my 9-year-old self saw. Maybe.
I remember one Christmas we came to Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve to walk and my mother wanted a picture on the small bridge by the pond. The bridge was icy. My mother slipped. My sister doubled over in laughter. My mother was, OK of course, but that is a story we still laugh about today. That bridge was replaced years later by the pond deck, but the memory still stands strong.
I look back on that time and think of the safety I felt; the comfort afforded me by walking in my park. I long for those days – the good ole days, as we like to call them – if only for a second. One peaceful second to forget the pandemic and social unrest and virtual learning.
However, I now know that the good ole days only existed because my childhood sheltered me from what was happening in the world. The good ole days for me were someone else’s worst days. The good ole days for you, while maybe different from mine, were also someone else’s worst days.
But now as an adult, I can bring my kids to Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve. The drive there might look a little different, but the park looks the same. Last week, my kids played hide-and-seek in the butterfly garden. They ran to the pond to find the turtles and frogs. They climbed the beech tree. You know the one that looks like God himself designed it for the mere benefit of young climbers? Their smiles were my smiles. Their safety was my safety. Their comfort was my comfort. To escape the world if even for just a second. To breathe fresh air. To rejuvenate.
So maybe it’s not the good ole days we long for. That is a time we cannot have back. Maybe we just need the good ole places – places like Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve or Winton Woods or Miami Whitewater Forest. The places where we can feel like a kid. The places we can wander, but not get lost. The places where our minds find respite. And maybe, just maybe, as we wander, an idea will pop in our head that will change the world. An idea that will usher in the beginning of true good ole days. Or, at least an idea that will brighten your neighbor’s day.
Nature Interpreter, Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve