Jennifer Cockrall-King | nature deficit disorder
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Forget fancy private school. Long, lazy days at the lake may be the best education your kids get all year. “We dissected Chris!” my seven-year-old niece, Jocelyn, squealed over the phone, leaning heavily on the second word. She was calling from my parents’ cabin on Lac Ste. Anne, Alta. And while Jocelyn is known for her piercing voice, she was talking more loudly than normal thanks to the cacophony of frogs in the background. Last spring, the sloughs that flank the cottage were full to the brim. The amphibious burps and grunts echoing off them were remarkable. The sounds transported me back to my youth, when my brothers and I spent countless hours catching frogs and filling up plastic pails with as many intriguing creatures as they could hold. I’m not sure what we had planned for these new “pets”—and why we thought we needed hundreds—but my parents were grateful that it occupied us on rainy days when cabin fever would have otherwise set in. Well, that weekend last spring, my nieces Jocelyn, Sydney, and Mallory, and Mallory’s friend Carly were sleeping over at the cabin with Grandma and Grandpa. Despite the cold and the drizzle, they’d spent the previous day outside, shin-deep...