It can happen anytime, anywhere, and with anyone.
Most recently, it happened on Saturday morning at a petting farm with Amy and Brian and another guy whose name I don’t remember. Youngish parents of preschoolers gathered around cake and juice boxes to celebrate a nearly-minted 4-year-old and engaged in small talk. Who’s your child? Where do you live? What do you do? It was my turn and, predictably, I said, “I work for a research and education organization called the Huron River Watershed Council.” The guy who isn’t Brian cocked his head to one side and asked, “What is a watershed?”
To be honest, the question surprised me. In hyper-educated, “green” Ann Arbor, I expected that these peers would be ready to talk the fresh water lingo. So, while my internal dialogue was decidedly less polished and more animated, I recognized the conversation for the reality check that it was and responded in kind. A thoughtful riff on the drought and low water levels followed as we finished the last forkfuls of cake.
Ask my daughter what she remembers about her friend’s party and she’ll say the baby animals. For my part, I’ll think of the reminder I received from the party-goers that most people in the watershed are stewards-in-waiting.