Friday, April 30, 2004

Naturally Speaking

Every afternoon there is an event that takes place at my house that I really enjoy!

In fact, I find myself anticipating it, and get bummed out when I’m too busy and forget to witness this marvelous thing.

You would think that perhaps it was my family all sitting quietly around the dinner table, using great table manners and not arguing with one another. Yeah, right.

Or perhaps it’s a television show that a really love like “Alias”, or “Survivor”. Nope.

This is even something I can influence a bit, but have really no control over it happening.

Every afternoon, like clockwork, a covey of quail move from East to West through the backyard. On their way to who knows where. Perhaps I will follow them someday, and solve the mystery.

My influence on this covey is that I provide a feeder for them. The difficult part is keeping food in it since the deer think the feeder is for them too.

Soon I plan on buying these battery operated electric zapping deer stick things to keep the deer away from my feeder. I don’t mind the deer roaming the backyard, fertilizing my lawn, or nibbling my shrubs (most of which are of the anti-deer variety anyway). I just don’t want them stealing the food from the quail.

The quail are a very cool bird to watch, and they are so skittish. When we moved here to Spokane the goal was to get some land so we could watch deer and other wildlife around our property, but we settled on getting a track home so the kids had a better place to play and go to school.

Luckily, we don’t have a fence around our backyard, and neither do many of our neighbors, so the wildlife can still migrate through the property. One thing I don’t want to do is feed the squirrels. Although they are fun to watch as well, I don’t want to encourage the little buggers. If we lived out away from others perhaps I would have a feeder a ways from the house, but squirrels can get a little out of control.

My other wild bird feeders are suspiciously vacant so far. It’s probably because our sprinklers are broke and they have not been on to help attract the little feathered friends to bathe in our water.

So far we have not acquired any pets at our new home. I am content in watching nature in my backyard, and feed the wild critters as I have time and money. The nice thing about this arrangement is that when you go on vacation you don’t have to have a house sitter for your pets, or lock them up in a shelter someplace.

We wanted to try our hand at chickens, but I fear the city life will prevent this from becoming a reality. For now we’ll just have to enjoy the quail running through our yard and nibbling at the seeds and corn we place out for them. When the time comes for babies, a whole new level of cuteness arrives.

It’s a beautiful warm day today. The sun is shining bright, the sky is clear, clean and blue, and it’s Friday. The weekend promises to be the same. I love this time of year, the wildlife, and the good life.

To round out this romp through nature, I saw a giraffe being born today on animal planet. What a sight to watch a baby giraffe come out and fall what appeared to be eight feet to the ground with a thud. Then to watch instinct take over and the little guy begin to try and try to get to his wobbly feet. He finally made it, and staggered around the pen. It’s amazing to wonder what drives a baby giraffe to instantly start trying to stand.

Years ago I was studying to become a veterinarian. Of course computers came along and seduced me away from that goal. Today I still have a love for animals, and the natural world never ceases to intrigue me with its many wonders.

I was reminiscing with someone at work today about things I have seen in nature. One field trip came to mind when we went to Kelso Dunes in Southern California. Jumping off the edge of the dunes you could hear a low rumbling noise that I was told was caused by the granite flecks in the dunes making a vibrating noise.

Another natural phenomena I discovered while doing night SCUBA diving was something called bioluminescence. It’s the light that is produced from within an organism. As fish swim by under water they leave little light trails from the algae that they disturb. It is the neatest thing you have ever seen.

From a covey of quail and a baby giraffe, to deer and squirrels, and noisy sand dunes and the light trail of fish. How can anyone not be completely in awe of nature and the fantastic things that are all around us to explore. Every time I learn something new it humbles me to think about how much more is out there that I don’t know about.

Nobody can absolutely know everything about everything. Does it bother you that there are things in this world you have never seen, learned or experienced? You should make it a point to try and go on one or more adventures this year. Pick a national park nearby your home and go explore its wonders. While you are there, actually take a tour with a guide and learn something cool about the area.

Years after the adventure is over, you’ll be telling the stories, and thinking about how much fun it was. You owe it to yourself. Take the family, take some friends or just take yourself if they are all sofa spuds. Explore, have an adventure, then tell others about the journey you made.

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