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hpa1-s.gif Nature and OurCommunity (Thoughts of Spring-Boost your awareness/Buildreverence)

In an age when technology and dailyresponsibilities occupy most of our lives, spring is a good time to steal amoment to experience our communities remaining natural treasures. Obviously, anopportunity for a wilderness trek has long since disappeared in most of thecommonwealth. We do, however, cling to wooded pockets of public and privateland, streams holding wild fish, farms of various sizes, and yards both largeand small, which when used intelligently, can make an immense contribution towildlife habitat. That being said, there is no secret our demand fordevelopable land continues at a torrid pace. Decisions made today willprofoundly affect the areas quality of life, and in many ways, define who weare at heart. Private land owners, public land agencies, hunters, anti-hunters,farmers, developers, and the general public must strive to see beyond monetaryconcerns 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, oryour whole family. Set aside a day, or perhaps several this spring. Explore anaccessible outdoor area near to you. Pay attention. No, I mean, really payattention! Look close. Forget the bills. Forget the hectic schedule. Lookclose, really close. The wild mysteries you uncover by doing so may ignite alife-long love affair with the natural world as they have for me. Observe the migratorygeese.They speckle cirrus clouds. Let your mind record and store their audiblesong of longing and feel the feverish pitch. Then, imagine the sky withoutthem.

Walk along a sparkling streamswollen with winter melt. The subtle babbling will invite and convince you tolinger. Hear the soothing, hypnotic rhythm of the cold, crisp determined flow.Delight in a streambed patchwork of earth tone pebbles, polished by years ofwash. Contemplate those years. Contemplate their absence. This place holds manywonders. Perhaps you will encounter a graceful native brook trout in thecrystalline shallows performing a dance for prey. Many of our small waterwaysstill support them. You will be witness to his astounding ability, despitecolor beyond perfection, to fuse craftily in the contour of the current. Hiswell-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 thisplace, resist the temptation to pan for gold. You will find only memories. Thewealth and wonder is held within the power to simply let it be. Can we commandsuch power? I, for one, hope so.

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

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

Enter the whitetail deer. Everpresent in our community, no wild animal has provided more recreationalpleasure to so many people. Whether acting as crafty game for hunters, beingphotographed, or simply having their beauty admired, they conjure up memoriesfor most of us. These memories are commonly passed through generations offamilies to weld special bonds. IÂ’ve watched hundreds of wonderfully filmedwildlife shows depicting adult deer and their young. IÂ’ve also spent countlesshours hunting and observing their interesting lives. Somehow, these well doneprograms are no competition for the actual unplanned meeting in the forest.There is a hidden element here. Sensory overload struggles to regainequilibrium. Your heart may skip a beat. Here is my case in point. It was latespring, birthing time for fawns. My wife and I were returning from a nicewooded walk. I loped along in semi-slumber. The sights, sounds, and smells ofspring had lured me to another place. Suddenly, directly under foot, thepulsating fronds of grass parted and revealed a very young whitetail. The wholeencounter 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 shakensurprise, my mind recorded lucid pictures. They have never disappeared. Noimpression ever taken from television has done the same. I distinctly rememberthose vibrant, dark, eyes so filled with life, transmitting emotions rangingfrom 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 unspokencommunication . It was not Morse code, but something much more primitive. Itquickened my pulse. A connection unaffected bythe passage of time and change was bonded to my being. Initial shockfaded to forced decision. The fawns normal line of defense, laying motionlessand 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, ableating cry erupted from the briars beyond. For now, safety had been won. Thedoe, lurking somewhere near, would precisely pin-point the worrisome call andwithout fail, locate the fawn when danger was positively passed.

I could spend the rest of my lifedescribing events which transpire and interesting things to study in theoutdoors. For every one there would be thousands more. My greatest wish is, forus 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 doorstepand form a strong alliance with the natural world. Perhaps together we canlesson the degradation to the strongholds of undeveloped properties. I likenthe loss of wild places and the consequences to a game of chess. The kings areonly kings because there are queens, bishops, knights, and pawns. In otherwords, diversity defines identity. Identity depends on diversity. What shallour identity be? Do we want a chessboard world of only kings. If so, who wouldwe be? A highly regarded Native American once warned, “When white maneliminates all the wild places, he will suffer of lost spirit and a greatsaddening of the soul.” This spring, get out and look closely. It just may bewhat you’ve been missing.

In future articles we will exploresome things we all can do to give the environment a helping hand. Whether youown thousands of acres of land or barely any, there are contributions to makewhich, when combined with others efforts, will go a long way in securing afuture for wildlife ands its habitat. ItÂ’s likely not all will agree with my ideas.ThatÂ’s all right. Our purpose with this article is to encourage thought andaction, not to be infallible.

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

Written by,

David T. Koons


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