Nature and Our Community

(Thoughts of Spring-Boost your awareness/Build reverence)

In an age when technology and daily responsibilities occupy most of our lives, spring is a good time to steal a moment to experience our communities remaining natural treasures. Obviously, an opportunity for a wilderness trek has long since disappeared in most of the commonwealth. We do, however, cling to wooded pockets of public and private land, streams holding wild fish, farms of various sizes, and yards both large and small, which when used intelligently, can make an immense contribution to wildlife habitat. That being said, there is no secret our demand for developable land continues at a torrid pace. Decisions made today will profoundly affect the areas quality of life, and in many ways, define who we are at heart. Private land owners, public land agencies, hunters, anti-hunters, farmers, developers, and the general public must strive to see beyond monetary concerns and prioritize their land use to benefit the ecology of these areas. There is much we have to learn and much we have to lose.

Go it alone, take a friend, or your whole family. Set aside a day, or perhaps several this spring. Explore an accessible outdoor area near to you. Pay attention. No, I mean, really pay attention! Look close. Forget the bills. Forget the hectic schedule. Look close, really close. The wild mysteries you uncover by doing so may ignite a life-long love affair with the natural world as they have for me. Observe the migratory geese.They speckle cirrus clouds. Let your mind record and store their audible song of longing and feel the feverish pitch. Then, imagine the sky without them.

Walk along a sparkling stream swollen with winter melt. The subtle babbling will invite and convince you to linger. Hear the soothing, hypnotic rhythm of the cold, crisp determined flow. Delight in a streambed patchwork of earth tone pebbles, polished by years of wash. Contemplate those years. Contemplate their absence. This place holds many wonders. Perhaps you will encounter a graceful native brook trout in the crystalline shallows performing a dance for prey. Many of our small waterways still support them. You will be witness to his astounding ability, despite color beyond perfection, to fuse craftily in the contour of the current. His well-being is not guaranteed. Man shall rule over the creatures of the earth. It is up to us what meaning rule will take. Imagine him gone. When leaving this place, resist the temptation to pan for gold. You will find only memories. The wealth and wonder is held within the power to simply let it be. Can we command such power? I, for one, hope so.

Within your midst, budding trees of many varieties will break their winter dormancy. Energy storehouses no larger than a fingernail have endured the most hostile weather of the year. They are no worse for wear. Now is their moment to shine. Within weeks, these little miraculous gems will multiply in size by some thirty times, completely change their physical form, and gather life giving sun to help nourish the timber. In turn, the forest will help provide clean air to breathe, building materials our lifestyle depends upon, and immeasurable beauty throughout the remaining year. It all begins with that little bud. Hold one in your hand this spring. Examine it, and the tree, very well. Careful observation will undoubtedly create as many questions as answers. This is good. These questions, when answered, will create an endearing adoration and reverence for wild things. This reverence will promote conservation.

Witness also, within the songbirds voice, an increased fortitude and urgency. Intricately woven nests will now be taking shape. These works of fine instinctive art are created with avian dexterity and coordination rivaling our finest industrial achievements. They are outwardly fragile and inherently tenacious. This is a rare combination of qualities. Should you happen upon one this spring, delight yourself by studying the special texture and rich craftsmanship. Picture the begging brood, eventually taking flight from this cozy cup. Will they have the benefit of safe and prosperous habitat as did their parents? Only we can decide. Ponder their non-existence. It can very easily happen. The consequences of this loss would leave us that much poorer.

Enter the whitetail deer. Ever present in our community, no wild animal has provided more recreational pleasure to so many people. Whether acting as crafty game for hunters, being photographed, or simply having their beauty admired, they conjure up memories for most of us. These memories are commonly passed through generations of families to weld special bonds. Iíve watched hundreds of wonderfully filmed wildlife shows depicting adult deer and their young. Iíve also spent countless hours hunting and observing their interesting lives. Somehow, these well done programs are no competition for the actual unplanned meeting in the forest. There is a hidden element here. Sensory overload struggles to regain equilibrium. Your heart may skip a beat. Here is my case in point. It was late spring, birthing time for fawns. My wife and I were returning from a nice wooded walk. I loped along in semi-slumber. The sights, sounds, and smells of spring had lured me to another place. Suddenly, directly under foot, the pulsating fronds of grass parted and revealed a very young whitetail. The whole encounter would last but a fleetly minute. Yet, the indelible scene remains. The fawn speedily burst into a defensive standing position. Then our eyes locked. Neither of us could believe our blunder. In these few seconds of shaken surprise, my mind recorded lucid pictures. They have never disappeared. No impression ever taken from television has done the same. I distinctly remember those vibrant, dark, eyes so filled with life, transmitting emotions ranging from curiosity to absolute fear. They shimmered in the sun like jewels, moist, and perfectly lashed. Ears of supple pink lining and soft, three- tone hair, scanned the surroundings and took notes for future use. There was unspoken communication . It was not Morse code, but something much more primitive. It quickened my pulse. A connection unaffected by  the passage of time and change was bonded to my being. Initial shock faded to forced decision. The fawns normal line of defense, laying motionless and scent free, had failed. It was no longer an option. The dash was on. However, a thick stand of yellow birch lay in wait to foil the getaway scheme. I watched in awe as the birch were flawlessly negotiated with little effort. This was Olympic class running achieved at the ripe old age of three weeks, with barely, if any practice. The distance between us widened. Now hidden, a bleating cry erupted from the briars beyond. For now, safety had been won. The doe, lurking somewhere near, would precisely pin-point the worrisome call and without fail, locate the fawn when danger was positively passed.

I could spend the rest of my life describing events which transpire and interesting things to study in the outdoors. For every one there would be thousands more. My greatest wish is, for us as a community, to begin to realize the importance of outdoor conservation. I hope, in some small way, I have encouraged people to look beyond the doorstep and form a strong alliance with the natural world. Perhaps together we can lesson the degradation to the strongholds of undeveloped properties. I liken the loss of wild places and the consequences to a game of chess. The kings are only kings because there are queens, bishops, knights, and pawns. In other words, diversity defines identity. Identity depends on diversity. What shall our identity be? Do we want a chessboard world of only kings. If so, who would we be? A highly regarded Native American once warned, ďWhen white man eliminates all the wild places, he will suffer of lost spirit and a great saddening of the soul.Ē This spring, get out and look closely. It just may be what youíve been missing.

In future articles we will explore some things we all can do to give the environment a helping hand. Whether you own thousands of acres of land or barely any, there are contributions to make which, when combined with others efforts, will go a long way in securing a future for wildlife ands its habitat. Itís likely not all will agree with my ideas. Thatís all right. Our purpose with this article is to encourage thought and action, not to be infallible.

In closing,  Iíll leave you with a final thought of  a somewhat more technical nature. Anatomically, our eyes are structured to analyze and differentiate between many colors we see in everyday life. By scientific methods, one of these colors has been determined to be the most pleasing and gentle to the eye. For most of the year this color dominates our wild places. Yes, the color green. What a coincidence!

Written by,

David T. Koons