|Cinnamon Fern Fiddlehead (Osmunda cinnamomea)|
So it all started about 2 weeks ago when I was working in my garden and found the dead, dried body of a Pine Woods Snake, smashed on the path. I was really sad to see it because I find only one or two in the yard each year and thought, "there goes my shot this year". Selfish, I know, but I really look forward to seeing them. They are uncommon little snakes, harmless, dainty and shy, and surprisingly, our urban yard is a good habitat for them. What makes this especially tragic for me is that the mailman and I are just about the only people who walk on the path in our front yard, so chances are about even that I was the one who squashed it. So even in a lovingly created and nurtured nature sanctuary, the nature is not always safe.
|Dead Pine Woods Snake|
|Wooly Pipevine (Aristolochia tomentosa)|
Before I knew the eagle was ok, I needed to go somewhere to process my shock. I went to a wooded area behind a nearby strip mall/medical park/apartment complex and stewed over the plight of the eagle. It didn't take long in the woods before I felt better. I saw a turtle and a number of lovely birds, including a Pileated Woodpecker that I watched from just inside the bushes. The woods were a refuge for those animals and for me. But they were also strewn with trash, and I could hear the roar of lawn mowers and smell engine exhaust from the parking lot yards away.
|Trash in the Sanctuary|
|Grasspink Orchid (Calopogon multiflorus)|
This weekend when I was driving home from the grocery store I looked through the windshield and saw this:
|Anole on the Wipers|
5 Florida Panthers have been hit and killed by cars so far this year, and a beloved Red-Tailed Hawk in Massachusetts was found dead last week, an unintentional victim of rat poison. A Florida woman was injured when she went outside and found 5 bears rummaging through her trash. Several of the bears were killed by FWC to prevent other incidents.
To top it all off, I had an odd dream the night before last. Before I saw the eagle in the road, but after the snake and turtle. I dreamt that there was a hawk sitting on the floor of my house. It was lying in a strange position, all tangled up. I wasn't sure if it was hurt or not. I picked it up, knowing that I had to be careful with the sharp talons. I held it in my arms, grasping its legs like I would a baby. It seemed comforted as I held it close. I remember noting that it felt soft, like a cat or a rabbit.
I don't know where that dream came from. I don't believe that it was a message forewarning me about the eagle. But I do think that the dream represented somehow my view of the relationship that humans have with nature in our daily lives. I think I am concerned about caring for the world around me. I worry a lot about the fate of animals like the whooping crane, the polar bear, elephants and rhinos. Panthers and bears and hawks. I fear that our last wild places will be exploited and torn apart in the interest of money, power and greed and that our exploding populations will use up all the resources that all the creatures on the earth have to share. But I also believe that most humans care about protecting the natural world. I believe people acting intentionally can live alongside of the natural world in relative harmony, if we want to. We just have to be careful and thoughtful. Accidents will happen, no matter what we do, but if we try even a little it makes the chances of doing harm all that much smaller.
It makes me happy to know that I live in a place where traffic will stop to protect an injured eagle, and that the story will make the front page of the paper. I like to know that a turtle in the road has a chance if the right person finds it. It fills me with hope to know that people are so eager to see a bird nest and its contents. I love that I live around urban park refuges, tiny snakes, wild orchids, hungry caterpillars and car surfing lizards. I am thankful for groups that clean up trash, pull exotic plants and study wildlife. I applaud scientists and engineers that are finding ways for us to live together on this planet, leaving a smaller footprint. I am encouraged by environmental educators who want to teach a new generation to care about nature.
We just have to be mindful that we are sharing this planet and know that what we humans do might have bigger consequences. We have great responsibilities. With Earth Day just around the corner, this seems relevant and I think that is how it all comes together.