Thursday, August 4, 2011

Nature near home

I love the book NATURE NEAR HOME AND OTHER PAPERS by John Burroughs (1918). It is a great instruction book for observing your daily surroundings. I cannot improve upon the text of John Burroughs. I interlace and illustrate it with a few pictures of "my own birds" that "I see with fondness and sympathy".
In the bird-world size matters very much. The seagull is more agile than the seagull, but he keeps a careful distance.
  After long experience I am convinced that the best place to study nature is at one's own home, on the farm, in the mountains, on the plains, by the sea, no matter where that may be.
The bigger seagull chases away the smaller one.
One has it all about him then. The seasons bring to his door the great revolving cycle of wild life, floral and faunal, and he need miss no part of the show. At home one should see and hear with more fondness and sympathy. Nature should touch him a little more closely there than anywhere else. He is better attuned to it than to strange scenes. The birds about his own door are his birds, the flowers in his own fields and wood are his, the rainbow springs its magic arch across his valley, even the everlasting stars to which one lifts his eye, night after night, and year after year, from his own doorstep, have something private and personal about them.
But the quick and intelligent magpies are able to steal from the big and menacing seagull.
The clouds and the sunsets one sees in strange lands move one the more they are like the clouds and sunsets one has become familiar with at home.
The duck and seagull are approximately equal in size and "respect". Now the magpies keep their distance.
The wild creatures about you become known to you as they cannot be known to a passer-by. The traveler sees little of Nature that is revealed to the home- stayer. You will find she has made her home where you have made yours, and intimacy with her there becomes easy.
Each species has had it's bite of bread.
Familiarity with things about one should not dull the edge of curiosity or interest. The walk you take to-day through the fields and woods, or along the river-bank, is the walk you should take to-morrow, and next day, and next. What you miss once, you will hit upon next time. The happenings are at intervals and are irregular. The play of Nature has no fixed programme. If she is not at home to-day, or is in a non-committal mood, call to-morrow, or next week.
The duck stays around to fish in the rain puddles. I've often seen them doing this after the rain but I don't know what they look for. Earthworms?
John Burroughs - Wikipedia
Nature near home and other papers - Librivox and Gutenberg

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