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.
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.