An encounter with nature

[Setting: A sunny Sunday morning at Elk Neck State Park in Maryland. Summer has come a bit early but a fresh storm the night before has brought in a cool breeze. A short distance away the small waves of the Chesapeake beat upon the rocky shore of a beach, imperceptibly continuing a process that eons from now will break the beach’s large, painful rocks into pleasant sand. The sun shines down upon the ranger station. The trees are verdant. In the distance, birds chirp. Ranger 1 is looking over the reservations database: it looks like a light day ahead. Ranger 2 is preparing her eighth grade graduation speech. A camper walks into the ranger office, holding a bag, with a cup inside it.]

RANGER 2: Good morning.

CAMPER: Good morning. I found this black widow spider.

RANGER 2 [face brightening]: Cool!

CAMPER [pausing]: I’d, uh, never seen one before.

[RANGER 1 walks away from his computer to have a look]

RANGER 1: Yep, that’s a nice one.

RANGER 2: They’re everywhere in Maryland.

[An awkward pause ensues.]

CAMPER: I just thought you should know.

RANGER 2: Thanks! You can just let it go in the wood.

CAMPER: Actually, uh, I was going to kill it!

RANGER 2: Oh, no! Don’t do that!

RANGER 1: He’s our little friend.

RANGER 2: We’ll just take that from you, thanks.

CAMPER: Um, okay.

[The camper walks away. A suspicion is dawning on the him that he has played a stereotype. Like the middle schooler excitedly informing her long-haired, flip-flop wearing social studies teacher about this band she’d just discovered called “The Grateful Dead”, the naïve suburban camper has just brought an everyday specimen from nature and introduced it to the staff as if it were remarkable. The camper returns to his car and proceeds to deliver a lecture to his young daughter on the importance of respecting nature and living with it in precarious balance.]