“There is something in living close to the great elemental forces of nature that causes people to rise above small annoyances and discomforts.”- Laura Ingalls Wilder
For most of my life, I thought of wildlife as something you saw only in the wild. I was introduced to wildlife and nature as a Camp Fire Girl and Junior Audubon member. And from that tender age, I was taught to respect wildlife in their natural habitat.
We rarely saw critters in our yards even in the suburbs as we lived in treeless lots with acres of lawn. So anytime spent in nature was special and mysterious. But in our yards and homes, we did everything to get rid of critters. Insects were feared (bees and hornets) and thought of as pests (mosquitoes and flies). And birds were a rare sighting, mostly sparrows, that lived in the woods on the fringe of our development.
When I moved to central New York in my early teens, we lived in a new development that was in the “sticks”. There were only a handful of houses surrounded by woods and wildlife that found their way into our yards all the time. It was here that I felt a closer bond with nature as birds built nests in our trees and under our windows. Deer and rabbits browsed the trees and shrubs, and snapping turtles moseyed through.
And even though wildlife was more a part of our surroundings, we still viewed it with boundaries. We still did not want it too close or too much a part of our lives especially with all its inconveniences. Bugs stinging and buzzing, birds swooping to defend their young, deer and rabbits eating precious plants and veggies….not to mention voles digging up the lawn. We were forever keeping the critters off our pristine lawns and out of our gardens.
This feeling of embracing all wildlife, was not fully developed for me until I started my own wildlife garden. Slowly I began to see the benefits of all creatures. Each integrally entwined with the other, and with us. Each important with its own beauty and wonder. And my garden a place where each was welcomed. I was finally realizing that we must not try to control nature, but instead be part of it.
Recently I found nature, and particularly wildlife, to be a wonderful escape from my hectic days at work. Living in an office for 8 hours and driving in the car for 2 hours more were made bearable by the nature I observed and the nature waiting at home for me.
When I talk with neighbors and co-workers they seem to always be hurrying about barely noticing the natural world around them. I will bet many of those drivers on the road with me missed seeing the hawks in the trees, the fox and deer running in the fields and even the wildflowers growing alongside the roads they traveled. What a shame.
Sitting on the edge of my pond, I watch the dragonflies and frogs. I listen to the gentle, peaceful sound of the water cascading over rocks ….and sometimes I quietly talk to the critters that happen by. Nature is a soft place, an easy place and sometimes a bit of a raucous place when the birds get to fighting over territory. But it is a world we must learn to navigate carefully. Understanding how each of our actions can easily upset the delicate balance found in this world that we are part of.
I have come full circle in my views of wildlife, and for me the boundaries of wildlife are arbitrary as wildlife really has no boundaries. I have enjoyed escaping into this ‘wild’ world that is all around me. And with my recent retirement, I cannot wait to fully live in the habitat we built continuing to share the special stories made here by nature.
**The pictures in this post are from our wildlife garden.
© 2014, Donna Donabella. All rights reserved. This article is the property of BeautifulWildlifeGarden.com We have received many requests to reprint our work. Our policy is that you are free to use a short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact form above if you have any questions.