Doing Animal Things


As many of my readers know, I like to take many of my life lessons from the animals I observe. I do have limits though. I am not likely to eat a worm like Robin and I’m VERY sure I will not be giving myself a natural hair mousse by rolling in some poor dead, SMELLY animal like my girls use to enjoy, much to my displeasure. (For those who do not know-‘my girls’ were three Leonberger dogs.) But they can enlighten me with their spirit, with their natural Being.


At present, patience is my foe in that I have little. I want things. I want things right now! I feel like I should be doing something to advance myself or my ideas and yet there is nothing to be done that I can see. When these less than lovely vices bloom, I set myself down and look at the animal world to learn how to prune them.




Lynx is young and on his first solo hunt. Mama taught him the skills he needs but now it is up to him to implement them. He sees Spruce Grouse dusting herself in a hollow beneath her name sake evergreen.  He has to be careful and make tiny advances, moving a well furred paw only when Spruce grouse dips her head to dust. She is prey and looks up often in between her shower, but when she is not looking, for that microsecond, young Lynx moves a foot forward, shaking with anticipation of a meal. She looks up and the paw stops in midair until her head goes down, then, careful not to step on a twig the paw gently, silently finds the ground. The dance plays out second after second, minute after minute. The wait is long and tedious. Young Lynx in a moment of a moment of contemplating a much needed meal, moves a back leg just when her head pops up from the dust - and it is too late. In a flurry of feathers, dusts, shrieks of alarm and screams of frustration young Lynx pounces on air where a hopeful second before dinner had stood. Another hunt must begin.


Great Blue Heron is an experienced fisher; many times before she has come to this lakeshore to hunt Bluegill. On this day she arrives when the day has chased the shadow from under the brush but has yet to see the sun. When no breeze stirs the mirror upon the water. She knows it will be a difficult to find a meal in these conditions but she is game to try. Landing gently in the knee deep water and muck beneath, she waits. Motionless. And waits. Minutes pass as the sun rises yet she is fixed, a statue of a huntress. Eventually, Bluegill slowly dances close to search for insect larvae and other tasty items on his grocery list. Bluegill wanders and slowly approaches striking range. She could try now, but there is a small chance she would miss. She waits as the sun grows hot. As Bluegill swims lazily and she calculates the refraction of light, the speed of her strike and Bluegills likely path in retreat. Her neck muscles coil as she arms her weapon – the Bluegill does not know it but he is already hers. She closes her eyes against the break into the lake. She no longer needs to see him. She releases her harpoon knowing her kids back at the rookery will get breakfast on this morning. By the time she is breaking the surface it is in essence over.


Sometimes standing still as the best way to move forward.