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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

It's not about you

Wild things often just do not cooperate. Birds, for instance. They would be much easier to identify if they would just come closer, instead of lurking in overhead foliage. And how is it that really cool primates like lemurs live all the way over in Madasgascar, where those of us with limited cash on hand are unlikely ever to be able to see them? And don't get me started on insects. There is a serious mismatch between those we would like to see more of and those with which we are ready to be done.

Cicadas are everywhere during this brood emergence. Now I am one of those oddballs who rather enjoys the once-every-seventeen-years cicada chorus, but Facebook is filled with people seemingly traumatized by the current omnipresence of large red-eyed bugs.

Mosquitoes are no doubt of some use in the ecosystem, but no amount of citronella seems to keep them from swarming my favorite outdoor seating area. On a recent visit to a forest park, the little bloodsuckers were so plentiful (and my repellent so far away) that I had to abandon an interesting trail for fear that loss of blood would leave my pale corpse somewhere along the path, until it was found by someone who had remembered to pack Deep Woods Off.

Butterflies are particularly uncooperative. The one time I managed to get to an area known to host Karner blues at a time of year when they are known to be flying, not a Karner was to be found. Last week, wandering a favorite meadow, I saw an unusual blue-gray butterfly of some kind, but would it land on anything nearby long enough to be photographed? Of course not, so with my failing memory (and difficulty observing things like how many of which markings the insect had, and on which part of the wing), the lovely little flutterer will remain forever unidentified. Ditto a black swallowtail of some kind, which danced enticingly along the path but never held still long enough for me to determine whether it was an actual black swallowtail, a pipevine or spicebush swallowtail, or a dark-form tiger swallowtail. Most annoying.

Of course, these creatures do not exist for us.The Karner blues are under no obligation to place themselves where they can be seen. The butterflies that were the object of my recent quests had their own lives to live. They were after the nectar in the meadow banquet, and avoiding the large thing that might be a predator took energy that could have gone into feeding and mate-finding. Our noisy neighborhood cicadas have only a few weeks to find a mate and pass on their genes before they die; their love song is also their death song.

All around us, every day, thousands (millions?) of lives are happening, all with their own stories. Most of us notice them only when they impinge on our lives in some way, and then the story becomes some aspect of the human one. Most of us never get to know what these beings are for themselves.

A reminder to myself the next time some creature becomes frustrating: it's not about you.


Treva Richards said...

I really enjoyed reading this blog. I was outside this evening thinking the same things about all the insects, including these cicadas. I even wrote a poem about them (cicadas). I am not a fan of the red eyed nastiness because of childhood trauma in which they were involved.

Cristy H said...

Love this. I try to take a moment and just observe when I happen to notice creatures around me going about their business as if I didn't matter (because I don't). :)