Past Blogs

THE ART OF THE JOURNEY

 

There is a taste of fall in the air. Just a kiss riding light on the wind and it carries with it a promise of the change of seasons. For those who fret about the upcoming seasonal change there is no reason to worry, because that is tomorrow. And there is nothing we can do about tomorrow. To plague the mind with events we have no control over is a waste of time. And time is a precious thing.

 

The Canada Geese I have been watching as I make my way around the lake this summer have been preparing their young for the migration south and time is short for them as well.

 

In the beginning of spring, when eggs were hatched and fuzzy-headed fluffs wandered about the park, the parents were concerned with trying to guarantee their children would survive infancy and fledge. Now at midsummer parents are preparing them for the arduous journey ahead. In the three or four short months of summer their babies have to learn what to eat, who or what may be a threat, how to swim and watch beneath, how to recognize the language of the extended family, and not only fly but to be certain of their place in the formation of the vee for the long journey. That’s a lot of information to ingest in a short amount of time.

 

By September the yellow and brown puffballs look like the adults for the most part but still have the look of uncertainty that can only be erased by the experience of surviving an entire season. A few babies have not been fortunate. Lessons ill-learned, inexperienced parents and the fortunes of others have clipped their lives short. Wrong place, wrong time or ill-fated luck had taken them.

 

 Now on the far side of summer those whom were lucky and smart are practicing the art of flight with their parents. Test runs to build their wing strength. There are repeated trips around the lake to learn the subtleties of using the wind to their advantage and what to do when their  advantage is replaced by a mean-spirited, rain-laden wind. They are young and soft in muscle. Everything they do is a bit of a struggle but they are learning, watching, gaining strength. They must. A day will come soon when all their schooling must be put into practice. And failure to learn even one lesson carries a catastrophic penalty.

 

I watch them as they practice above me. Parents calling encouragement, children trying to manipulate the wind to their will, then understanding they must use what the wind gives them. Their talents vary, their skills obviously lacking in control and experience as they flop and grope for some unseen grasp of the air currents. Statistically, 50% will not survive the journey, but there is no time to worry about what will happen tomorrow, it is right now that concerns them. Mastering the day translates into success; into lessons well taught and well learned. A lottery win for all intent and purpose.

 

We are much the same. Wasting time concerned with what might happen tomorrow instead of tasting the moment is much like worrying over a coming migration instead of learning to master the moment, to fly well today.

 

Fly well today my friends, and tomorrow will take care of itself.

 

THE 1000th CHICK

Photo by Audubon.org
Photo by Audubon.org

 

In the long list of things I write about that mankind has done wrong, it’s nice to talk about something we’ve done right.

 

Enter the California Condor, the largest bird in North America from the vulture family. In 1982 there were only 22 of these birds left in the world and the powers that be decided to make a controversial decision to capture all remaining condors to provide a captive breeding program in order to keep them from going completely extinct. Thirty plus years later the California Condor community has hatched their 1000th chick, born in the wilds of Utah.

 

Mama is Condor 409; (tag #9) she was hatched in captivity in 2006 at the San Diego Zoo. Papa is Condor 523; (tag # J3) he was hatched in 2009 at The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, ID. Both birds were released in the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, AZ, Mama in 2008 and Papa in 2016. This is Mama’s second mate, her first died of lead poisoning in 2016. California Condors have one baby every two years. Not exactly a prolific species, but with human intervention they have beaten the odds for now.

 

There are currently 500 California Condors in existence today. Half of those are happily soaring high in the thermals above Mother Earth, living wilds in Utah, Arizona, California and Northern Mexico.

 

The skies were almost empty of Condors. It took a gaggle of agencies, biologists, citizens and a roll of the dice to get a program together for a bird that is not known for being pretty, but beautiful enough for some people to care about what happens to them.

 

No one can predict what future awaits 1000th chick, but he or she will be free to make their bid to either bloom or fade in the wild where they belong thanks to hundreds of dedicated humans. We caused the mass extinction and we also stalled it. We did this right.

 

HOW TO GET BABY RED SQUIRRELS OUT OF A DUCT

 

Let us say you have found a baby red squirrel in your air conditioning duct. You heard some scratching and, well, there he was alone in the bottom of the duct in your basement and looking oh so bewildered. Never mind how he got there, never mind who else was may have squatting rights amongst your walls and attic. The problem had shown itself and must be dealt with. Now.

 

You’ll need some basic equipment – such as oven mitts for the anticipated close combat drill – and some sort of head covering. You opt for a hat. Should he make a run at you in blind terror, you must be prepared to defend your hair and face in a moment of panic.  A towel could be useful so as to cause no harm during the capture of Baby Red Squirrel. Then, as a last minute decision, because of the darkness in the basement where the duct is located, you grab a flashlight and also a screwdriver for the mechanics. Now you’re ready and descend the stairs.

 

Mentally, you run through procedure. Capture without injury, that’s what you are trying to achieve. No squishing or squeezing in an adrenaline-filled rush of success. Just pick him out of the furnace/air conditioner duct unit with gentle hands, speak softly so not to spook him and put him in a box, unharmed, then call Wildlife Rehab and voilà! You’re confident in your little plan. After all, you are an intelligent, well-groomed adult woman and he is just a terrified baby squirrel wanting his mom. It should be easy you say to yourself.

 

After removing the first cover of the furnace unit, then the mechanical cover, you shine the flashlight into the corner and there he was. Time to put the plan in motion.

 

It goes just as slick as it did in your pre-game self-talk. Baby is in the kitty carrier box and will soon be on his way to –

 

Wait a minute. Was that more scratching? You once again look into the breach of the duct…

 

Eight little eyes stare back at you. All in a tiny ball.

 

You’re surprised but unworried. It’s going to be easy. Just pick up the ball of babies and drop them into the designated box. Your plan moves forward.

 

But you side off the rails in the execution of said plan.

 

Babies #2, 3, 4 and 5 do not stay in the ball as prescribed. Three and Four dart out of the duct to places unknown. Undaunted, you manage to capture #5 with an oven mitt but when you open the rescue box Baby#1 flies out of there in a blind panic and decides your exposed cleavage looks like a good place to hide. As you scream in terror the flashlight falls out of your mouth, and you instantly drop Baby #5 while simultaneously trying in desperation to get Baby # 1 out of your shirt.

 

Three of the babies are making laps along the basement wall as you hop about trying to release the cleavage baby, who decides it was not as nice a hidey-hole as he had hoped and scrambles for your head. Good thing you have that hat on- too bad he is a crafty baby and slipped underneath and is now nestling in your perm. His siblings are running the Dayton 500 around the circumference of the basement while you do the jig, fling the hat and try to wrestle loose Baby #1, whose tiny little feet have a death grip in your hair. When he finally swings free of one of your long locks all you can see is babies running. Everywhere. Nobody’s in the box and babies are apparently capable of attack.

 

With steely-eyed determination you go to plan B, which consists of running behind the babies with a towel to drop on them or hopefully corner them for the oven mitt catch. You trap Baby #3 behind the old screen door lying against the east wall. One down, four to go.

 

While chasing Baby #2 and #4 you have unfortunately forgotten about that low-hanging pipe.  

 

When you come to your senses, a mittened hand instinctively goes to your forehead as you try to focus on the scurrying shapes making laps and discover a lump akin to a rhino horn growing where your Third Eye should be. You would be angry now – except you’re still disorientated. Yet in your dream-state, you have successfully captured Baby #1 and #4, though you don’t remember how. Nor do you know how you got them into the box without Baby #3 escaping, but you’ll take a win when you can get one. Baby #2 is still at large with her sister, Baby #5.

 

Baby #5 darts under a shelving unit. You need the flashlight and something to coax her out with. Something like a stick but kinder. You opt for a dust wand. You don’t have a headlamp so you hold the flashlight in your mouth again and see Baby sidestep over the wand. She’s very clever – just your luck. Her capture is abandon for the time being while you go after the sister who you hope is less intelligent.

 

What she lacks in grey matter she makes up for in speed and for a baby she sure can climb as she scales an old television cabinet. At least there will be no running which should alleviate some of the pounding in your head. You throw a towel at her and quickly scoop up Baby #2 who is scolding in high-pitched squeaks as you wiggle her into a very small opening in the box all the while praying Baby #1,3 and 4 do not notice her dropping in through a crack in the box lid.

 

Almost there! Only clever #5, who you suspect is barricaded herself behind the washer, needs rescuing. Armed with the knowledge that you soon will be done you feel a surge. You also feel a surge in your head when you heave the washer from the wall. Another in your back as you move the dryer, where #5 scooted to when you chased her from the washer. A few slow, stiff laps around the basement later, with both contestants tiring, Baby #5 reverses course into a wooden box. Not THE box but a box nonetheless. You can almost taste the victory as you ‘stir’ the box with your oven mitt hand and finally- you have her. Apparently the babies are as tired as you because they just watch as Baby #5 joins them.

 

Basking in the glow of victory, you surveille the remnants of a once organized basement now littered with pieces of old lumber, oven mitts, overturned furniture, misplaced appliances in need of a service repairman (Who knew washer hoses could rip like that?).  You smooth a hand with chipped polish over a once upon a time stunning perm, unbedazzled by the new lump in the middle of your forehead (which is going to look swell at work tomorrow) and wonder if that was a disc herniating in your back.

 

But the Babies are on their way to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota.

 

Unharmed.

 

MORE OF THE COOPERS

 

Early morning they attempted their first flight. Well, one of the babes decided it was time; the other two were not so sure even though Papa Cooper pierced the sky with high pitched screams of encouragement delivered from a tall Green Ash tree twenty yards away. For several days the three chicks had been playing at flight while flitting about the nest tree. Hop flying to a nearby branch and flapping inexperienced wings to test the strength. Later that afternoon, the second chick decided to try out the flight idea. Then there were two somewhat clumsy, awkward, soon-to-be aerial masters with tell-tale chick fuzz still evident on their heads, flopping about, trying not only to fly but to grasp the art of landing as well. All of this was carefully monitored by their parents. (In one of the photos Papa Cooper can be seen on a phone line with one of the chicks. He flew there after the baby managed an uncertain landing on the wire.)

 

But still there was that one Cooper baby; the timid one I never noticed in the nest because he liked to stay hunkered down and out of sight. He sported more baby fuzz on his head, being born a day later than his siblings, and on that day of sibling first flight he was just as unsure.

 

The next morning he was in the nest tree, a solo baby looking a bit forlorn. Family was nowhere around that I could see. I feared he had missed some critical window that I knew nothing about, a law of nature that said if you can’t keep up then you forfeit your life to those who can. And that saddened me greatly.

 

But then as if in response to my unvoiced concerns, I heard a loud screech from a tree across the lot. There sat Mama, waiting. The other two children were somewhere with Papa, learning to fly, land and most importantly, to hunt. A mother’s patience is vast though and she waited hours.

 

By the afternoon Timid had made his debut and flew to Mama in a less than direct line, missed the first branch and fluttered down like of folded kite to a lower branch. Practice was definitely on the day’s agenda for all the babies. Each day would bring better control, more promise of what was to come.

 

 Since then, the young birds have gained confidence in the air, mostly hitting their perches without too much tipping and shifting along the way. There have been some hunting attempts, so far without success but the parents bring them the wounded so they can practice. And of course they keep trying.

 

Now it is up to them to become who they are supposed to be. Mama and Papa have given them all the tools and support to be a good hunter.

 

It was a blessing to watch this family from my balcony and I sure will miss the Coopers, but I know they are learning and growing, wild in the city. The someday Masters of the sky.

 

Note: As of this writing, one of the babes had his first successful hunt, with a little help from Mama.

 

LIFE WITH THE COOPERS

 

So I’m standing on my balcony watering the potted plants and below me (I’m on the second floor) a gentleman resident is standing with one of the managers telling a story of woe about how Daddy Cooper dive-bombs his bald head every time he steps out his door. The guy’s arms are flailing wildly and every now and then he points an accusing finger at Cooper’s nest as he loudly complains about the ‘Eagle’ that has it in for him.

 

I confess Mama and Papa Cooper do look pretty darn big when they swoop to discourage anyone lingering to long near the babes. But Eagle sized? The gentleman has obviously not actually seen Eagle up close and personal. Now the manager did try to dissuade him of his fantasy of the Coopers actually being Eagles and entertain the idea that they may be hawks. (I’m sure she knew it was a hawk, because she later asked me what kind of hawk it was, because she was pretty sure I would know since I have been labeled amongst the apartment residents as a duck-lover and possibly ‘one- of- those’ if you remember.)

 

But back to my neighbor.

 

The gesticulating, urbanite wants to know just what the apartment management is going to do about the bird (now of generic species) dive-bombing him.  She suggests walking out with an umbrella until the babes were out of the nest. Another younger resident who is getting into his car adds to the conversation. ‘You have to walk fast – reeeaalll fast!’ and laughs in a good-natured way. Another passerby says she just stays off her balcony until the babies leave. (Mama Cooper doesn’t mind me sitting on my balcony, but I’m not allowed to point things like binoculars or cameras at the nest. If I do, she or Papa will swoop me.) Everyone has a plan in place so as to co-exist with the urban wildlife. Well, everyone but this guy below me. I’m not sure what he thinks management might do about the Coopers but he leaves unsatisfied, his arms finally at rest.

 

The woman who has been speaking to him looks up at me, glances around to see if Urbanite is within earshot, and says, “It’s kind of nice to have them here, don’t you think?’

 

‘I love it!’

 

‘Me too,’ she says. ‘It’s like a little gift from the wild.’

 

My thought exactly.

 

I think you will agree. So I leave my readers with a little gift from the wild, in pictures. More to come next blog.

 

A TREE TRIMMING PROJECT

 

We had ourselves some tree-trimming here at the apartments. Call me crazy but when someone warns me that ‘the trimming might be substantial’ (because I’ve been labeled by my community as a ‘Duck-Lover’ and ‘One Of Those’ I was on the early inform list along with a few others) I had a picture in my mind of some larger limbs being removed and possibly having a few peek-a-boo holes in the forest. I wasn’t, however, expecting a massive, clear cut policy of deforestation of the first thirty feet of what is essentially my back yard. Now, I could go on and on about this but I’m not going to (maybe a little) because rather than harp about this one thing (who wants to read about complaints, right?) I would like to make a larger point.

 

Sometimes doing the right thing is inconvenient. At times it requires thoughtfulness and more time to produce the same results as a speedy careless venture. It can more costly to do a project responsibly.

 

Let’s use ‘tree trimming’ as an example. There are ways to clear an area of dry brush or dead limbs without resorting to the scorched earth policy.

 

My sister and I built a farmhouse several years back and we wanted trees close to the house, which made life uncomfortable for the construction crew in that they had to ‘be careful’ when putting in the foundation, bringing in supplies, moving big equipment about and almost all other facets of the project. Our demands were not very popular because there were already dozens of trees on the property and they could not fathom why we found it necessary to preserve ALL the trees. It took more of crews time and more of our time, but in the end we did have trees right outside our windows (and our home was cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter if one needed to see a more fiscal reason) because of it. But more importantly, it was the responsible thing to do for the earth and the wildlife that lived on those ten acres.

 

In another phase of construction, we had Wood Phoebe nesting in the rafters in the basement (that is considered very good luck by the way) and it was time to put the basement windows in so the dry wall could be done. We became even more unpopular when we told the project manager there could be no windows in until the babies were fledged and out of the nest, otherwise the babies would starve when mom could not get back inside. Apparently this was going to upset the entire time table of the construction crew, dry wall would have to be rescheduled, and all manner of bad things would happen down the road because of this bird and - well, you get the point. Long story short, Wood Phoebe babies fledged, windows went in and no catastrophes ensued.

 

Let’s return to the tree trimming project at the apartments. Would it really have been so devastating to walk through and carefully consider which trees ‘had’ to go and which ones could remain,? Doesn’t Mother Earth deserve some thoughtfulness on our part as we use the gifts she gladly gives us?

 

Many times it is completely inconvenient to do the right thing. Even the little things can be a pain. Carrying around a plastic water bottle until a recycling bin can be found, using natural weed deterrent rather than a chemical spray that kills with quicker results.

 

We all like instant gratification but sometimes the inconvenience of doing the right thing is exactly what living on Mother Earth requires.

 

THE DUCK ON THE NEST

 

Mama Mallard’s eggs hatched on June 19th. I went by in the morning to say ‘hi mama’ on my way to the lake and she was just sitting there as usual - fluffed, still – just waiting under the Peony. But by afternoon she had dropped her wings down over the nest and if one was patient, the little babies would make an uncertain appearance. Tiny fluff-balls with wonder in their eyes, looking at the big world from under mama’s skirt.

 

I apologize for the video which is sideways (pilot error) but the babies are on right side of the picture, they are only a few hours old. This morning, Thursday, she had taken them away under the cover of a very early sunrise. I kind of miss our morning talks, her and I.

 

I could write a whole blog on this little family but really – what could I possibly add to such a beautiful moment?  

 

Hope you enjoy the video.

 

Success

 

We tend to think of our lives in terms of success and successes for many are quantified by what we have; in other words, material things. Do we have a newer vehicle? Are our house kept up and the mortgage under control? Are we making enough money? Do we have a retirement plan? Is there enough in that retirement plan? These are all good questions and certainly comforting physical, albeit fleeting, things to possess as we traverse life. And it admittedly does require a great deal of work to reach this ‘success’. If asked, most people would respond that they worked very hard to get where they are and would probably add ‘sacrifice’ to the list.

 

But what if we described success in life as joyful moments rather than things? Do we work as hard at obtaining laughter as we do about new siding?  Do we spend as much time watching a sunrise as we do putting in overtime at work? Do we make a plan to attain a few minutes of quiet in the back yard with the same determination as we plan for retirement? Do we sacrifice television or computer time for a moment to appreciate the sunset or the peace of the evening as darkness drifts down?

 

In our haste to collect the physical, do we forget to collect the metaphysical, the moments of joy, with equal importance? Perhaps success has less to do with what will happen tomorrow and more to do with what was created today.

 

Being aware of the daily joy that surrounds us are the seeds to our success in many ways. So I am leaving my readers with some seeds I borrowed from my lake walk this morning in these accompanying pictures. May it bring you a brief smile or a moment of calm – and success in the moment.

 

Side bar: No nest action yet. There is egg turning and stick weaving, but no hatchlings as of this writing. Stayed tuned!

 

WEIRD HOMES

 

During my travels for spring planting (for my balcony and my sister’s yard) to various gardening spots and pop-up nurseries, I discovered a lot of nurturing going on not exclusive to the plants. There was a considerable amount of fauna amongst the flora. And in some very weird places. At least they are weird to me but evidently not to the occupants of these new constructions.

 

While looking for herbs and ‘some kind of pink flower’ at Fleet Farm (I needed pink to share a pot with the really cool white-spotted purple petunias in the photo, which I ultimately decided should stand in her own space anyway) we ran into a robin mama sitting on her nest right there on the eye-level shelf of mixed marigold seedlings. Robin sat motionless on her the little nursery of grass and mud even though plant shoppers (apparently unaware of her) picked up the seedlings only inches from her. I suppose she knows what she is doing but it looked like a fairly questionable building sight, not to mention what is going to happen when the babies arrive.

 

While we were still hunting the pink flowers in the same store we rounded the corner and found a baby cottontail rabbit, still sporting the little white spot on his head, eating the profits near a flotilla of pallets loaded with various ‘greens’. Baby scooted under the pallet as soon as he stopped munching long enough to discover us, even though we had no intention of telling the staff they were losing product in aisle nine. I’m not sure if the plant section was actually ‘home’ but it was an enclosed space so Cottontail was using it as such, much to our delight.

 

Mama Mallard has determined that the flower bed directly adjacent to the apartment entryway was the best place to nest. She chose a lovely (albeit busy) strip of land five feet wide, between the sidewalk and the tenant parking spaces, under a nice peony plant. Again, not sure where they are off to once the babies hatch, but I’ll try to keep an eye on them.

 

Speaking of keeping an eye on things. Cooper mama is still on her nest in the crab tree keeping the eggs warm through torrents of rain and wind, while dad brings snacks for her. If Cooper dad isn’t timely with the snacks, Cooper mama sits and screams for him – and I do mean ‘scream’. She has a very distinctive voice. Now, sometimes he is not always lucky enough to find a meal in which case he brings her a stick. I guess as a peace offering of some kind. It must satisfy her though because she spent quite a bit of time placing it just so among the other twigs.

 

Then there are the Red Squirrels in my sister’s attic, but that’s a story for another day.

 

Every one of these nesting/nursery sights seems, to put it kindly, not too well thought out. It seems to me they could have chosen better (though I am not a Cooper Hawk or a Robin or a Mallard hen). In the long run, it doesn’t matter what I think of their new homes of course because they, like us, find nothing quite as nice as their own space.

 

 Proof once more that home is where the heart lives. Yes, I changed that quote. I think this is more accurate.

 

FEATHERING THE NEST

 

So nice to see everyone again! It feels great to be back at the keyboard. Some of my readers have known for some time, but for those who didn’t, I have recently moved– built a new nest if you will – and it has taken me a bit of focus to gather and settle in, hence the absence from my writing. But I am back on track now. Almost.

 

As to why I made the move? Well, sometimes we outgrow our surroundings or we find new interests or we just want a change and any or all of the former can apply to me. Opportunity knocked and I answered the door. I have moved from a house to an apartment, little city to big city (although I have lived in many big cities during different periods of my life) and embraced known with unknown. I am not alone in new beginnings however, I have a friend who is doing the very same thing.

 

Cooper’s Hawk and her mate are in the process of constructing a nest among the blossoms of a lovely flowering crab tree, just outside the balcony of my new apartment and I watched with fascination as we each built a very different home but in much the same manner. Cooper chose a tree and began by places the larger sticks roughly in a fork of the trunk and I chose an apartment and placed all the furniture in a pleasing way. Then came the smaller twigs or, in my case, the rugs, dishes in cupboards, unpacked boxes into drawers, etc. The final stage for Cooper was the lacing on fine twiglets and grass to line the nest. This is the point I am at – dressing the house to make it my home by placing my personal items here and there. Of course Cooper is much more efficient at this process and much pickier. She spends hours weaving and unweaving a thread of grass among the twigs until it is just so, then a few feathers to soften and she is done. I will not be done for a bit yet but I am making progress.

 

It is interesting how many things we Humans do that reflect the very same processes we observe in the rest of the animal world when we step back and really notice what others are doing and how they do it. Interesting, but not surprising when one remembers we are part of the animal world and not apart from it.

 

I love the changes happening in my life and feel some new energy swirling about – always uplifting! I’ll keep an eye on Cooper and keep everyone apprised of their progress as they hopefully raise a new generation of hunters.

 

Note: I waited a week after writing this in hopes of getting a better picture. This is the best I could do, shameful I know. If you look real hard you can see her sitting on her nest in the center of the photo. Well, her head and eyebrow anyway…

 

MY NEIGHBORS CAUGHT ME...

 

We have had a lot of snow of late covering the landscape. Food sources for our wild friends are buried beyond where they can retrieve it so I have been diligent about keeping my feeders full (in between shoveling sessions – of which there have been many). There is a family of Crows I feed salmon trimmings to and if I don’t see them, I yell out my door, ‘Crow! Crow I have fish for you!’ This is normally not an issue since at many times my call comes at predawn but shoveling copious amounts of snow has put a hitch in my timetable and I happened to have yelled it out my door at 9:00am.

 

And my new neighbors caught me.

 

It is certainly not the first time I have had a ‘witness’ to my life of nontraditional existence, but I do like to be a bit discreet about talking to animals, trees, grass and so forth. Yet every once in a while I am deep in conversation and do not see the now alarmed person walking by or brushing the snow off a car. I admit it ought to be somewhat embarrassing to get ‘caught’. There is no way to justify what I’m doing to a layman but after spending decades hiding myself and the very things that make me ‘tick’, I have chosen to embrace who I am and what my reason for being here is. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been uncomfortable moments. The price of living your life sometimes requires less comfort and more boldness. Something I think we all could benefit from. Boldness. Fearlessness. There is a quote I think of often and it asks, ‘What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?’ I do not remember the author, but those words certainly makes one consider our desires and what keeps us from living life to the fullest, unencumbered by labels others and ourselves have placed on us.

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail

More Tigers, More Bears, More everything

 

No big surprise here, but I LOVE animals. All sizes, all shapes, and all colors. Which is why I have been watching an interesting show on BBC America, titled ‘Dynasties’ and if you haven’t partaken in the festivities I would recommend that you do. Each week the show invites the viewer into the life of one animal that is the cornerstone of their pride, troupe or family unit.

 

This last week we were following the life of a Bengal Tigress named Raj Bhera who is trying to raise her 4 cubs in a tiger preserve in India.

 

Of the many memorable scenes and narrations, one made a very deep impression on me and even though I knew this information, it still alarmed me.

 

Seventy years ago there were over 100,000 wild tigers throughout the world in their various habitats. Today, there are 4000 remaining in the wild- we hope there are 4000 remaining in the wild. I hate this statistic. HATE IT! I am sixty years old so basically in my life time, up to this point, we have successfully extinguished them for all intent and purposes. That is sad beyond what I can write here in this space.

 

 

 

I am mystified as to why our world is not held in more esteem. Why we as a whole consider the wild to be a luxury, the animals to be expendable and Mother Earth’s resources ours for the taking. At some point will we not see that all pieces of our world were designed to work in communion? That each part of the whole, no matter its size, needs to be there in order for all who live upon it to flourish. And while some humans may ponder the need for Polar Bear, Tiger or tiny Shrew – others realize the obvious fact. They were put here, in each of their environs’, because they were needed by the whole. Each is a small but important piece of the puzzle that is life. It may be that we humans do not yet understand why these pieces and Beings must remain where they were put, but ignorance does not lessen their importance.

 

I am only one of many who believe we have the power to change our current trend of greed, our disrespectful stewardship of those around us, but we have not the will I’m afraid. Not yet.  I wonder what Mother Earth will become in the future. Will she be green and bright and whole – or will there be only Human Beings in a grey unbalanced world? I have not the answer, but I do know one thing.

 

If we are the only ones left, what is the point?

 

Medicinal Animals

 

I’m having a day. One of those unfocused days. Not a ‘bad’ day by any means (I don’t believe in such things), but one of those days when I just cannot latch onto a thought for more than a few moments before I’m spinning off on to something else. I had a number of chores on my list right from the get-go this morning so no coffee in the morning yard, no stretch on the floor, just a list of must do’s in my head, which means regrettably, I did not take a few minutes to meditate and this was the result…spindrift…a familiar condition of mine to which many will attest.

 

Back in the day when my girls were home (my Leonberger Dogs) I would remedy the situation by hanging out with them, not necessarily playing with them, but just being with them as they did their fascinating doggy things. Since my girls are no longer home I watch squirrels, bunnies or whoever is gracing my yard.

 

 This ‘taking a break’ does not and never did not solve my issue – nor does it jump start my brain into being productive – but the comfort of animals doing their thing sure made me care about little else except watching them. Animals are a salve for the Human woes we perpetrate upon ourselves. They bring us peace just by being. A friend comes to mind. A woman, who after a brutal day (her words), goes and sits quietly in the barn and listens to her horses munch hay. She doesn’t interact with them. She finds just being in their presence calms her mind. She gains a new perspective out there in the warmth of the stable. Jamie loves nothing more than to curl with her cat, letting that purring engine wash away her troubles. I know a cockatoo that can make his guardian laugh out loud without even trying, no matter what the emotional state of the guardian.

 

They are miracle medicine draped in fur or feather. What magic our animal companions are blessed with, to change our world and our lives by merely being present.

 

So when the day seems overwhelming, when you have created your own spindrift, remember the animals are there to minister to you. We just have to decide to receive their Sacred Medicine.

 

Then reboot.

 

FUN FACTS ABOUT OUR FRIENDS

 

Let’s talk Pigs. And Dolphins and Whales. A Cats and Dogs. And Chimpanzees and Prairie Dogs. And the very interesting lives they lead.

 

Did you know Cat can drink saltwater with no ill effects? Tis true! Her kidneys can process out the salt and retain only the water. That would be handy on a life raft, wouldn’t it?

 

Did you know Pig can recognize himself in the mirror, and spend quite a bit of time admiring himself? He displays to himself just for fun. An image of another pig displayed in the mirror gets rebuffed.

 

Humpback Whale will defend not only Beings of her own kind but come to the rescue of others Seal, Dolphin and others from Orca. According to Science Magazine, in 90 percent of the reports of Humpback defending against Orca, she is defending another species. That makes Humpback pretty important to the hierarchy of the oceans. She is the sheriff out there in the world of water.

 

When Chimpanzee is taught chess on a video game venue – he beats his Human opponent 2 to 1 and can anticipate future moves better and quicker than a Human Being. (Maybe Planet of the Apes wasn’t so far off!). He also understands the Rock, Paper, Scissors game of hand signals – and doesn’t always take losing very well.

 

The alarm whistle of Prairie Dog identifies the town intruder in shape, size and color specifically by different nuisances of the whistle, letting others in the community know exactly what is afoot. He doesn’t scream ‘run and hide!’ but ‘run and hide from the brown, banded slinky thing in the east corner!’  That’s better than most home security systems.

 

Sea Otter is the gardener of the seas. She and her pod maintain huge kelp beds that benefit hundreds of species and Hawksbill Turtle are indispensable in maintaining coral reefs. It makes one consider the value of having all species present on Mother Earth, since we seldom understand or see the big picture.

 

Speaking of coral reefs, Clownfish has one of the best tricks of all. She is the matriarch of the school, but when she makes her transition, her male mate takes over the school – and becomes female! Now I don’t know whether to say she or he! But that is an amazing swing is it not?

 

The things we don’t yet know about everyone else on the planet is mindboggling.

 

And one day the world of science will prove the animals are talking, just like us.

 

And then what will we do?

 

ELEPHANT EVOLUTION

 

There is an evolution happening among our friends the African Elephants.

 

As we are all very aware, the poaching of elephant tusks has decimated herds across Africa but Elephant herself, with the help of Mother Earth, has made her own decision to safeguard her kind against the inhuman Humans by evolving into tusk-less pachyderms. And she has done so very quickly. We are watching evolution in the making, in real time, before our eyes. The time frame of elephants with tusks and elephants without tusks took a mere 50 years.

 

The entire evolution is not complete but the statistics are moving in the direction of the more desirable tusk-less genes growing within family herds that are under stress of poaching. (Families not under poaching threats are developing as usual, meaning with tusks). There is a real threat of a time in the near future when Elephant and her children no longer have tusks, thus protecting them from poachers. Male elephants are not going tusk-less, but are producing smaller tusks.

 

 This may seem like a win but is it?

 

The tusks of Elephant serve multiple purposes. They are very handy in digging for water not only for them but for other African species. Following behind Elephant and family can virtually save the lives of numerous animals during times of drought which occurs for months at a time in parts of Africa. Tusks are used for moving objects, downing trees and digging for food, defense and determines the desirability of mating. Even if one were to throw out the problems of food and water (not small problems!), the situation could be dire for future generations if the best of the bulls have no way to complete the hierarchy of breeding rights.

 

Is the choice to remain tusk-less truly a benefit? Or is it a predetermined extinction for new generations? Only time will tell.

 

The questions presented bother me. These are the foundation of life, changing right before us, and sometimes we become to concern with other (and in my opinion) less important things. I am not the only one. Biologists have the same concerns for this evolution caused by man and not nature. What does the future hold for other species dependent on help from Elephant? What about Elephant herself? And us?  Who is to say what happens when the balance of life is disrupted?

 

One thing is certain. If we could stop poaching none of these questions would have to be answered and Mother Earth and Elephant would not have to take such drastic steps to ensure their children live until tomorrow.