By Keith Whitson
Back in the spring, I purchased a large pine tree for my yard. It was in a big pot, waiting to be planted, when a small bird got eager and built a nest in the branches, where it produced three small, blue eggs.
It concerned me as to whether they would be hatched and on their own before the tree got planted. Employee Keeli Parkey made the comment that they could just ride along to the new location since they were currently living in a mobile home. I hadn’t looked at it that way, but since it wasn’t planted, the tree was mobile. Well, as fate often proves with mobile homes, a strong wind came through and blew the pot over, crushing the eggs.
The incident reminded me of my youth and connection with nature. I recall many times seeing bird eggs and trying to be of assistance. If an egg had fallen to the ground but was still intact, I wanted to put it back in the nest. If a small bird had fallen out, I wanted to put it back in the nest. I wanted to help the mother bird keep watch over her little ones while she was away from the nest. Nature did not need my help and often times the small animals were rejected by the mother because of my help.
My cousin Karen and I found a butterfly that wasn’t as active as we thought it should be. It seemed its wings were a bit thin and void of the powdery finish they seem to have. I ran in the house and got some body powder and we dusted the butterfly to give it an even coating.
Needless to say, the butterfly died. Obviously our medical findings may have been a bit off. We had a ceremony at a nearby cemetery and buried the fragile corpse in a small cardboard jewelry box between a deceased married couple. I said a few words of comfort and we covered the box with dirt and placed a fresh flower on the grave.
It seems like I always tried to interact and harness nature as a child. Lightning bugs were a fascination at night. A small jar with a few in it was as good as a flashlight. It was like a party glow stick. An accidentally crushed lightning bug would create a glowing smear on the hand or arm.
A flying creature that I always knew as a June bug, was a special toy when string was tied to its leg. The poor thing would try to fly away but could only go in circles. Eventually the fun would wear off and its legs would tangle up in the string and the bug die. Then came the guilt. Up until that time it was like having a motorized toy as the bug buzzed and whirled around and around.
My uncle would find small rabbits and bring them to me. Their new home was a shoebox with some grass in it, the lid and some holes for air. And, of course, their food of choice was a carrot because Bugs Bunny ate them in the cartoons. The small creature would eventually die or I would release it back into the wild. They never seemed happy with my food offerings, even though I did all of the gathering work for them.
As I got older, birds were more of a nuisance to me as they tried to build nests of mud and sticks in the rafters underneath my deck. I tried to deter their efforts with foil, tin pans, a plastic snake and, eventually, a water hose. However, they seemed determined that location was the best. I felt like I was running a bird resort and evicting guests.
I’ve never gotten along with bees. One bee is bad enough, but take a swarm and I’m doomed. My only consolation is that they supposedly die after stinging. Awe, too bad – not really.
I was being chased by a swarm near a creek. I ran into the water and sat down, but it wasn’t enough to cover me, so they swarmed and stung me numerous times. I mowed over a nest in the ground. Again, I was chased as they flew up my pants and down my shirt. I abandoned the running mower and stripped as I ran through the yard to the house, trying to get separated from my clothing and the trapped bees inside them.
As a young boy, I thought baby chicks were adorable. Then, the mother hen chased and flogged me.
I tried feeding hummingbirds but they continually drained my feeder and fought over the provided supply. I put out food for birds and many of the seeds fell to the ground, causing a growth of unwanted plants at the base of the feeder.
I saw two adorable bear cubs and stopped to photograph them. Then I saw the momma bear who didn’t like my presence, so I slowly slipped back into my car.
I know some species are close to extinction and some are no longer on the earth, such as the dinosaurs. I have seen several cartoons of Noah and the ark. One shows the boat floating away while two dinosaurs look at each other to ask “Was that today?”. Another such cartoon shows the ark with a rope attached to a board in the distance which has two skunks on it.
I know that God created everything for a purpose. Everything benefits, pollinates or is the food source for something else. But, seriously, do we need snakes, gnats and mosquitoes? Oh, and spiders, add them to the list.