I recently was fortunate enough to go to the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge near Seymour, IN. It is a beautiful place, even in the winter and I had a mission. I recently began a Young Artist Series in an effort to showcase young artistic talent. I am working with the art teacher at Seymour High School who is encouraging his students to participate in the project. I was down there to speak to the board of Directors about a project that would showcase the Refuge in the form of a children’s book that would contain stores from those adults who had interesting observations about nature to share. I wanted to present it so that I could begin the project with their approval and enthusiasm. It would take interest for me to garner the twenty stories I hoped to get. It seems that the enthusiasm of the members may give me more like fifty stories.
While I was there, I had my first five stories related to me and they were a great start to the book I will be writing. It is a book about nature, about the refuge, and about working together to bring awareness for nature to others. I have had a love of science for years and it has been mostly in the life science areas, that of biology and zoology. I taught sixth grade science for about half of my educational career and the love of nature gets deeper year after year. I had hoped to meld the love of nature with the appreciation for art and give children an opportunity to color the artistic renderings in addition to learning.
There is a connection with the earth that we can realize only when we connect with nature. Animals are one of our major connection with our planet. If you observe nature you will see many things. I think first of the spiritual connection we all share. You can see the interaction between the animals and their environment as well as the animals and each other. You can learn a lot about how to navigate life as you observe animals. Something as simple as squirrel observation can show you that you needn’t worry about life. They go about being squirrels and that is all that they are
concerned about. They don’t worry if their hips are to large or if there is going to be food to eat. They just act... well... squirrely.
There are the lessons in nature that are perhaps not as interesting and funny. There is a law to the interactions between species as it relates to the food chain and the food web. We usually understand the food chain. One animal exists to be food for another animal. In the food web we see the interaction of all of the food chains. We begin to realize that when one animal is eradicated, the animals who depend upon it are caused stress and if enough animals are eliminated, the web can collapse. This is why observation of, and participation in, good stewardship of our planet is so very necessary.
As I contemplated the natural scene on this frigid day, I could not help but realize also how interactions provide us with additional opportunities to look at ways that human behavior can be improved. Animals do not set about hurting each other just for the pleasure of pain. They defend their territory so they can eat. They do not kill animals unless it is for food. They never kill for pleasure. They defend their territory so they can protect those they love. They do not appear to hate those in the food chain below them, only use them as a source of nourishment. If they are satisfied, they will not hunt. We can learn from this
They also have packs and groups they associate with. They support those in their packs. They do not gossip or denounce them. They all exist to help each other and intend no harm. Some species take it upon themselves to all help raise the young and teach them how to be the best at whatever kind of animal they are.
Yes, I think much can be learned from the behavior of animals during these winter months. It will prepare us for seeing their more playful side when the warmer months come around.
Something To Ponder