I’m a nature lover and promoter, but my sweetheart is the ultimate nature whisperer. We spent the day on the deck, and he attracted this gorgeously colored Five-lined skink beneath his deck chair. As a kid, he used to catch this lizard, which would abandon its turquoise blue tail in self-defense . Called “scorpions” by some, the folk-lore is that the tail has a poisonous sting, which does not appear true for humans. The tail will grow back, but kids – let’s give skinks a chance.
“There’s a news bee” he said. Huh? “Haven’t you ever heard of a news bee before?” Nope. “It looks like a friendly cartoon bee. It gets in your face and tells you the news.” I thought I’d heard all of his delightful Tennessee mountain folk sayings. I even started a list of my favorites when we were first dating. “She was all over him like a duck on a June bug.” Huh? As a boy, he used to tie a string to a June bug’s leg and watch it fly in circles. Meanie. “This rain’s a toad strangler.” OK, that saying I get, but “That’s as strange as Adam’s off ox.” Huh? He had to repeat it three times and translate for me, but it still makes no sense.
After lunch, when we’d both put our feet up and drowsily closed eyes, he was buzzed by the first of season Ruby-throated hummingbird! It practically landed on his nose, and would have if he been hadn’t startled awake. This plump female was a sight for sore eyes! The females and young lack the irredescent ruby colored throat of the males.
Yesterday, we hiked for a few miles, well meander is more like it. As good as I’ve become at distinguishing birds and other fauna in the field, my sweetie has an eye for the flora and is always stopping to point out trees, shrubs, and wildflowers . He found this increasingly rare beauty and took this photograph of a woodland Fire Pink. Huh? This plant is not pink, but a glorious fire engine red. After a little research I learned that its chief propagator is non other than . . . drum roll, please . . . the Ruby-throated hummingbird!
We spooked a few deer on our hike. At one point he stopped and turned, finger to his lips. Whoosh! Whoosh! A bowling ball-sized bird flew to a branch far above our heads. The red head of the male Wild turkey contrasted sharply with the green leaves. “That’s a 20 pounder.”
There’s no doubt in my mind that my sweetheart has paid back his karmic debt to the skinks and insects he tormented in his youth. He even saved a baby mockingbird this week that had fallen out of its nest and wasn’t able to fly yet. Put it in an abandoned robin’s nest, then put the nest and baby into a used Amazon.com box, then put the whole contraption into the Crape myrtle tree in his front yard. The Mockingbird parent lit on the edge of the box, then flew back and forth all evening with berries for the youngster. While checking the box the next morning, he was buzzed by the annoyed parent, so all is forgiven.
Think: Do you remember being a child and being fearful of smaller creatures? Did you ever hurt something weaker than you on purpose? Is it possible to atone for this?
Say: Journal about your experience, and consider writing a letter of apology to the being(s) you harmed.
Do: Enrich the natural world around you. Build a butterfly garden. Put out bird seed. Or a salt lick. Or a bat house. There are myriads of ways to create habitats to shelter wildflowers, animals and insects.