having avoided the inevitable summer onslaught of mosquitoes in these woods, we recently went back to one of our favorite local hiking spots. bristol woods – with the pringle nature preserve – is an easy decision for us, at any time of day that we can step away. it is off the beaten path and serene and two loops through the trails give us about a five mile hike, a perfect revitalizing. we adore this place and the priceless quiet it affords us.
walking the trails recently, we came upon a wooden structure that invited me to go to the narrow end and speak into the woods…seemingly a megaphone, but a size we hadn’t seen before. it’s a nature megaphone. it draws in the sounds from around it and, as you sit inside, with the sun on your face, surrounds you with nature, amplified a bit closer and more personal. this one needs to be turned around into the woods, as there is a busy road in the distance and it pulls in those sounds as well, but that’s a mere detail. i love the concept. a little googling shows that there are nature megaphones of great size in estonia, placed there for the healing power of the sounds of the outdoors, the quiet. ahhh.
the other thing we notice as we walk are the red and green ribbons encircling trees, the little red flags planted in the dirt. fearing what we had read earlier in the summer, we asked the naturalist what these ribbons and flags were for. she verified our fears, telling us that they were markers for the new aerial ropes course that the county has decided to move forward. the article states that there are no high ropes courses in the area; a very quick google search shows one in lake geneva and three (!) in east troy. but money talks (is this shocking?) and the county will share in the gross revenue. and the quiet of this small county park, the well-being of the wildlife in the woods, the educational value of a pristine teaching environment untouched by commercialism will all cease to exist. is “teaching confidence” and “learning about yourself” not found in the quiet woods? is a “family-oriented, wholesome” experience no longer a hike together? what exactly does “putting people in touch with nature” mean?
while i don’t question the opportunity for learning that a high ropes course might afford children and adults on all different levels, i do question the sacrifice of an active nature facility and its woods for this purpose. an official associated with the county is quoted as saying, “(bristol woods) is not going to be significantly impacted.” hmmm. i disagree. during the construction of and upon the completion of the high ropes course, what sounds will be amplified in their beautiful new nature megaphone?