Sunday, June 3, 2012

Nature Teaches Me...

Nature, according to is:  

1. the material world, especially as surrounding humankind and existing independently of human activities.

2. the natural world as it exists without human beings or civilization.

3. the elements of the natural world, as mountains, trees, animals, or rivers.

The elders of my childhood would often reply "nature will teach you" to questions such as: how do you know it may rain today? Someone would point out the leaves on a tree were turned underside up to allow the rain to wash off bugs.

Animal Planet is a fantastic wonderland for me and with the library of the Internet has increased my understanding and admiration for these creatures. Their staff endure great effort and personal sacrifice to record animals (mammals, birds, reptiles, etc.) living in their natural habitat. The life cycle of birth, living, mating and death vary among the species and many contain valuable lessons.

Spring brings out the pomp and circumstance of those ready to start new families. Male Crows point their heads toward the sky and prance for the local ladies. Females walk around eating, preening themselves, seemingly oblivious of the males actions.

Green and Brown male Anoles enlarge the dewlap under their throat to show territorial dominance and attract the nearby females. Females play “catch me if you can” until they are ready to start a family. Several live in our yard.

Many males will demonstrate their prowess to a prospective mate by:  
·         bringing her food (to prove his ability to provide)

·         preparing a house with furnishings (that she has to approve)

·         displaying an array of feathers or colors (know how to dress)

·         courting her by calling or singing using various methods

As I mentioned earlier, we have lizards in our yard and I became curious about their habits. First, the Internet, for knowledge then surveillance to confirm the information. The Green Anoles were our primary caretakers and would perch themselves on our brick wall as well in the bushes to eat their meals. The little dudes are really fast and cover a lot of territory during a given day.

One night, a new type appeared near the porch light. Shorter and almost invisible on the cream colored wood work, they had happy meals of insects and moths. These only appear at night and are Common House Geckos. So, the Anoles cover the day shift and the Geckos the night shift.  

One morning during my stroll with Tuffie, our pet, I noticed a dark brown lizard perched on the brick. It was noticeably larger than the others and didn’t seem to mind my presence. They hail from Cuba and are called Brown Cuban Anoles and are more aggressive than the other kinds. Two websites warned about their aggressive tendency to invade, so I just observed.

The Greens and House Geckos would head for cover when I came too close but not Big Dog. He claimed his place and would warn me to keep my distance by displaying his dewlap. I became so interested in their activities, my wife would remark about my looking through the blinds, or staring at the air conditioner.

Then one day, a dove flew in and appeared interested in our location for her nest. Back to the Internet to inspire my new quest. Doves are not brilliant birds when selecting nesting spots. The male selected a place on the rain gutter under the eve. She flew in, looked it over and approved giving him the okay to gather materials. Well, the standard nest materials do not stick to metal gutters and it took them some time to figure that out.

Our relative was in a local hospital during Spring and various birds were seeking mates and homes. Pigeons would work their magic on the ground, while Doves would place straw and grass on the fluorescent light fixtures. Papa would bring the materials and Mama would try to secure them to her frustration. Finally, she just flew away and her partner returned to an abandoned site. He kept looking around as if to deduce what happened.

Now back at the house, they gave up on the gutter and moved. The next season, one shows up on our fence followed by his mate. He began the process of gathering straw for her as she meticulously formed the nest. I kept thinking they were too exposed but Nature’s system has been in place longer than I.

I mentioned in a previous blog how we humans try to improve the “errors” in Nature. I know this doesn’t work regardless of our best intentions, but my nature is to interfere. This past year, I determined to let be what is and just learn.

The Doves nested, had children and all is well. The lizards avoid each other and reduce our bug population. All this without my intrusion. This wisdom also works when interacting with people.  

People intending to succeed in any endeavor of worth will have to persevere with wisdom and good counsel. The animal kingdom was here before humans and they haven’t tried to annihilate each other or destroy the planet. They also press on against incredible obstacles.

Now Gary, God gave us… I am cognizant of what he gave us. Look around and evaluate how we have used what he gave us or how well we obeyed his instruction (Gen 9:1) to replenish this planet. Our intellectual abilities are superior to every other creature on this Earth, but an ant acts more rationale than we. Hmmm??

One of the Dove hatchlings left it’s nest and was enjoying time on the ground with its parents. I’m curious when number two will take its flight and join the family. Nature is amazing. If we vanished, they would continue quite well, I think.
So what does Nature teach me? Use what I have, be patient and persevere.

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