Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Living With Wildlife

Nature is not ours to own but to protect, cherish and observe.

I heard the thud and immediately knew that a bird had tried once more to enter my house via the glass door. My windows need to be washed, so I'm not sure what was so captivating that a bird should want to greet it head on. As I walked over to the door, I knew immediately that this little finch had not flown away. With a plastic bag on my hand, I lifted the small, warm body realizing somewhere within me that the little finch was dead. Yet, I rub her small belly and stroked her head saying a little prayer for the life of this bird. After a few tears, I placed her on a high limb in the softness of a fir tree, a place she called home, a place to rest.

Often I talk of my growing up learning to respect the fauna and flora. You would think that in town there would be fewer chances to teach the children. Of course, we have squirrels and birds, an occasional rabbit crosses the road when traveling through the countryside. And, once I saw a coyote in town wondering why his forest had been replaced by houses. It's all out there, just sometimes not apparent.

When visiting my friends in Port Townsend, Washington, this little critter came up to the door conversing with me. My friends were often bothered by deer and raccoon. I was envious, and they were peeved at roses being eaten and raccoon butting their noses in places they didn't belong.

My house was situated near a small pond protected by Tualatin Park and Rec. The girls and I loved our walks to the pond where the nutria lived. I didn't know what a nutria was until I moved to Oregon. Resembling a ground hog or beaver, they are set apart by the long white whiskers and long pointed tail. Most startling are the two big orange teeth sticking out of their mouths. A lesson in the making. The girls knew not to agitate these critters living in their natural habitat. Curious brown babies were interested in equally curious girls.

"Stand still," I said.

They stood like statues and babies crawled closer not touching the girls nor they the babies. When the babies got braver, we retreated for their protection as well as ours. Some time after our visit to the family the nutria disappeared. They had lived in this pond for the years. Now they were gone. Somewhere in my mind I thought that perhaps a child had gotten to close to a curious nutria and the nutria were shipped out. At least I could live with that versus the alternative.

Nature is best left to nature. Pictures capture moments of nature doing what comes naturally. Moments we hope will happen again and again.

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