Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Trail of Treasures
I’m just about ready for a road trip that will take me through northwest Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. It’s a birding trip. By definition that is “ Larry’s opportunity to see birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, moths, dragonflies, prairies, mountains, badlands, sand hills, majestic rivers, and a tapestry that only nature could create.”
Let me put this trip in perspective. Why would anyone drive 6,000 miles and for 16 hours a day, drive hike, scope, record, photograph and write about animals and plants. Then reluctantly go to bed absolutely pumped to get up at first light to do it all over again? The answer is simple: I can and I must.
This is no ordinary trip. It isn’t a bird and wildlife listing exercise. Think of it as a journey to visit, observe and absorb the very best North American wild places have to offer. This is a tour of some of the most “globally important bird areas in the contiguous United States” according to the American Bird Conservancy and the Nature Conservancy.
I do this trip in June because America’s wildlife has awakened from our temperate winter and show their true selves in the most revealing way. They are living life right before our very eyes and for anyone who loves nature, this is honest nature at its very finest. Important Bird Areas (IBA) are important habitats that support the whole spectrum of America’s wildlife.
I say I do this because I can. Stop and think how fortunate we are, especially Americans, to have such unprecedented access to wild things and wild places. Most of the places I will visit are truly “in the middle of nowhere” and would never exist if they were not. That we have parks, preserves, refuges, sanctuaries that are available, protected and managed is incredible. Please never forget that this is true because we value these wild things and places. Without our collective support and some sacrifice, these places would neither exist nor thrive.
I must. I used to identify birds and eventually lots of other things. I still do. However, I have learned the value and the satisfaction of knowing these birds and things I identify and list. In fact, after 40 plus years I am beginning to understand this grand plan. I am always amazed at just how this natural system works as well as it does, sometimes in spite of humanity. Best of all it’s a grand system that we humans could never create. At the end of the day, there is no greater laboratory than in these places, in which we can best understand nature and indeed, ourselves.
Don’t take my word for it. All of us should take this same opportunity if we can. Explore your world and you will eventually come to the same conclusion. When you do, you will know that I do this trail of treasures because I have to. I can and I must.
By the way, I hope my family reads this because they are pretty convinced that I am certified crazy. Think they’ll finally understand?