LEFT Through the Lens of Time

Talk about a trip down memory lane…

I was recently invited to attend one of Lindenhurst School District’s LEFT for Juniors field trips, “LEFT” standing for “Lindenhurst Environmental Field Trip.” This program, an outgrowth of the original (designed for high school Advanced Placement Biology students), is geared especially to the elementary school’s 4th graders. It was founded in the early 1980’s by one innovator, Mr. Lee Paseltiner, Lindenhurst High School teacher and adviser.

I, at one point being one of those aforementioned 4th graders, had attended this day-long trip to Sailor’s Haven, Fire Island, way back in 1991, during which time we had learned the skills of beach combing, been given a guided – “scavenger hunt” – tour of the Sunken Forest, observed a few scattered deer and box turtles and – the highlight for many – “went really fast” across the Great South Bay on the Fire Island Ferry.

Well, fast-forward 16 years, and not a whole lot has really changed. There was the beach, with its white, pristine sand, unlike any other spanning the south shore of Long Island, framed by the crystal-green surf and perfectly-sculpted seashells. There was the Sunken Forest, that cool refuge of trees and shrubs, a sort of American rainforest right here at our fingertips. And, perhaps most exciting of all, there was that turtle. Maybe a close relative of the one from ‘91?

Obviously, I wasn’t so much of an active participant on this trip as an outside observer, taking it all in from a whole new, more appreciative perspective. I captured many of the images on camera this time, putting my newfound obsession with photography – and my new digital camera – to good use. The sites, through probably quite similar, seemed so much more poignant and beautiful than they had when I was nine – when my biggest concern was steering clear of all insects, dirt, wildlife…you know, nature.

I’m not sure how much this new group of children got out of the trip (although I did see some very nice seashell collections), but I’m willing to bet that, if they choose to return in a decade or so, they, too, will come away with newfound appreciation.

Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that make the most difference. A beautiful, late-summer day spent taking in the tranquility of Fire Island and reminiscing? Can’t get much better than that.

And, for the record, you still need to hang on to your hat on the Fire Island Ferry.


{Published: October 17th, 2007}

Jamie Lynn RyanComment