Taking things for granted

20 May
Hummingbird in flight

Hummingbird in flight

If you read my previous post, you will note the menagerie of fauna that frequent the cove where my cabin sits on the lake. This was only a small cross-section of the animals I saw over a two-day period. White-tailed deer, black bear, woodpeckers, pelicans, nuthatches, creepers, red-winged blackbirds, hooded mergansers, osprey, bald-headed eagles, chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, and more, all made an appearance. I told my domestic CEO that if she ever caught me taking the beauty and wonders of nature for granted, that she should hit me with a shovel. She agreed to it, perhaps a bit too fast.

I try very hard to notice something unusual about my environment every day. Most people would be shocked at the wildlife that life in their neighborhood. And, I mean downtown big cities and suburbs, as well as, the more rural areas. A few years back a 180 pound cougar was spotted by the police and filmed walking through a residential neighborhood in a close suburb of Minneapolis. After a few sightings it just disappeared. A gigantic white-tailed buck lives in the city park and adjacent marsh not two blocks from my house. I live in the city, folks!

Quite often, the CEO catches me sitting in my chair staring out the window toward the waterfall, pond and gardens that fill my back yard. “What are you looking at?” she asks. “Oh, nothing,” I respond, though that is not a fair answer. It’s just simpler that trying to describe two rabbits playing among the hostas. Or, the way the breeze is making the Siberian Blue Willows sway across the waterfall. Or, the interesting structure of the pagoda dogwood tree. Sometimes I do go to the trouble to explain what I was looking at. But, she knows me and takes it in stride if I keep it to myself.

Street gang

Real wild street gang!                                             Image courtesy of Sioux City Press

Growing up, my family would go for long walks in the forests of central Wisconsin. I was always amazed at what my father would spot before the rest of the family. When I got old enough to realize he was not all-powerful, I asked him how he did it. “It is very simple,” he said. “I look for particular shapes that would indicate a part of an animal, like an ear or tail.” My father then said, “The most important thing is to look for movement, just like the animals do.”

I took his advice and practiced. the one thing he didn’t tell me is that the most important thing to remember is that you must first want to see the little things and the larger world around us. If we take them for granted, we forget they exist and we stop seeing them.

So, slow down and take a good look around. Remember what it was like, as a child, experiencing things for the first time. Try to always live with a sense of wonder.


Posted by on May 20, 2014 in Musings and Odd Thoughts


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6 responses to “Taking things for granted

  1. char

    May 20, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Your father was very wise. Thanks for the reminder. I’m sitting here typing while watching birds play out my window. There’s this cool orange one that I’ve never seen before. He likes the thuja by my window, so I get to see him a lot. He looks like he should be a pet shop bird since he’s colorful…but I’m glad he’s not.

    • Dennis Langley

      May 20, 2014 at 12:53 pm

      Cut an orange in half and set it out for him. They love it. If no orange try a spoonful of grape jelly.

  2. Matthew Wright

    May 21, 2014 at 7:32 am

    That sense of wonder is precious. It drives us to discover things, often things that lurk in the familiar. It’s hard to remember how to think like a child, in that sense – but we need to remember!

    NZ has nothing like the range of animals of North America – though where I live we get occasional native birds like the Tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae). This is fairly new for suburban areas – cats do a number on them, but they’re coming back now. They’re mimics, with repertoire including the sound of an old-style phone ringing (seriously). Somewhere near where we live was also a Morepork, the native owl, Ninox novaeseelandiae. The common name is onomatopaeic, after the call. We used to hear it calling at night. The weird thing is, my wife had picked a Morepork ringtone for her phone and the real deal, outside, used to confuse the hell out of me until I twigged.

    • Dennis Langley

      May 21, 2014 at 7:38 am

      Oh that’s funny! An owl looking for a mate. Once at a Boy Scout camping trip, the troop bugler was practicing in the evening. It was fall in the Rocky Mountains. After only a few minutes, the boy stopped playing. Out of the dark on a ridgeline above our camp, came the bugle of a bull elk in rut. We laughed so hard at the thought of that elk thinking he was being challenged.

  3. 4amWriter

    May 21, 2014 at 8:26 am

    As you know, I’m a big wildlife fan. The other morning, three deer just strolled down the street in my little neighborhood. And, we typically see turkeys hanging out by the side of the highway this time of year. No matter how common certain species are in my neck of the woods, I never tire of seeing them.

    • Dennis Langley

      May 21, 2014 at 9:53 am

      There is always something new to see and learn. I broke out my life list of birds and added seven more to it in the past two weekends.


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