Monday, January 31, 2011
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
You've got to admit it. Not many women are as lucky as I am!
“Eileen and John brought in some mighty fine large rats last night." This is the way my better half, Kathy started a conversation one morning. Strange talk? Weird, disgusting topic? Not for two volunteer naturalists. Kathy volunteers at Raptor Rehab, and she had spent the previous evening bagging rats to freeze for later preparation as meals for the raptors. Her opening comment led to a lengthy, in-depth knowledgeable discussion about which raptors eat their prey whole, prefer rats to mice, eat all parts of the rat, or like only particular parts of the rats.Naturalists can carry on passionate, informative, and interesting discussions about scat, cockroaches, animals that eat their own poop, those creatures that live better through vomiting, and much more. Are we talking shop? Well, yes and no. Yes, because it is what we do each day, and no, because as volunteers we are acting out our creative passions solely for the sheer joy of the experience, not worrying about whether a paycheck results. Volunteering in natural settings has definitely changed us; we never talked about any of these things when we were dating, 38 years ago. Now we get up before dawn on cold, blustery mornings to search for birds and other wildlife that are probably ignoring their own parent's advice not to be out and about. We look for "bare" trees in winter, and use what clues we can find to identify the species. We hike sandy stretches where there's not much life, but there are tracks- are those from a snake, a lizard or a turtle? We deliberately seek out bogs, marshes, swamps, deserts and other isolated areas, becoming a part of the community of nature. We glean information and ideas from caring and inspirational native plant and wildflower professionals, converting our subdivision yard from grass to a wildlife habitat with water, cover, food and space for wildlife. I’ve challenged my own prejudices, finding out that everything has a niche in the web of life, and there is no “good or “bad” in nature. I once believed bats to be ugly and harmful, and now marvel at flying mammals that devour mosquitoes. As volunteer naturalists we are constantly examining, discovering, wondering, learning by observation, following up with books and the internet, and discussing anew. In nature, we are never bored and never truly alone. Joy awaits. Ain't life grand- rats and all?