Nature Notes: The 10,000 things


The 10,000 thingsThe signs are everywhere. The pulsing rhythms of birth and life and passing abound, the tracings of a single piece of life in the complex web can be seen easily. A mouse here, a sea gull there, white caps racing across the sea, a wandering meteor far older than us firing across our dark winter sky, that in its destiny with earth and the sun, sets our minds to wandering.

Waves carrying wind and solar energy from storms hundreds or thousands of miles away build slowly at first as huge dark mounds of water rising up from the horizon approach the shore, and as sea floor, water depth and wave size meet one another to finally crash as looming surf on our beaches, the mind feels like it has somehow, somewhere, been here before.

But it's the larger systems that are harder for us to see, and especially hard for us to see ourselves in as the working parts and pieces to a larger rhythm, a wild and natural dance far and away older than any of us, one that we can lose sight of in our hurried quest.

The green blade of grass becomes a mallard, which becomes a peregrine falcon, which becomes a maggot, which becomes a fly, which becomes a flicker which becomes a sow bug, which becomes a robin, which becomes a beautiful white flower, which becomes a shy deer, which becomes a black bear, which again becomes a blade of grass, which becomes a buffalo, which becomes a verdant patch of wildflowers, which becomes a prairie dog, which becomes an elegant red tailed hawk, which becomes a crow, which becomes a worm ...

These cycles go on and on and on, cycles within cycles, crossing and interconnecting, overlapping, all together, all at once forever and now. The sky and earth and all of us who live here breathe as one.

Each and every piece, each molecule, each sea gull, each deer fawn and most certainly each fish and seal and rabbit and goose and swan, all are integral; each individual a hugely important link to the overall health of this magnificent system. The world is poorer with the loss of each duck and goose, each roadside tree, each bear.

We are new and tiny and pink. We most certainly were not given the keys to the kingdom, and we most certainly have no business playing creator. We know how to destroy and disrupt, we have proven that, and we are still proving it today. But it's the saving, the not killing, the clear and serious conservation of our resources and protection of our natural world that we can aspire to. It is as simple as making the choice. Who would not make the choice for life, all life here on our blue home?

The yin and yang of each situation, and each system cannot be ignored. Male and female, day and night, summer and winter. We, too, are an integral part of the workings; but not as taker and user, not as the owner, but as the stewards. We have only to follow nature's lead. It's as simple as watching sanderlings at the seashore to figure out that we have no business there with our ugly metal machines. It only takes the courage to say no.

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• Craig Sparks is director of NAWA, a filmmaker, freelance writer and wildlife rehabilitator.

• Found injured wildlife? Questions? Call the Wildlife Center at 665-3595 or send an e-mail to:

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