There's Not Much Here to See
While taking my weekly walk through the Audubon sanctuary near my home, I encountered a man on the path. I asked him if he had visited here before, and the answer was no. His wife, he said, took one look at the place and declared, “There’s nothing to see here,” so she was waiting for him in the car.
Naturally, people expect to see birds at an Audubon sanctuary, but birds don’t sit around and wait for visitors and then strike a pose, or organize a flyby just because someone has stepped onto the property. There are zoos and aviaries for that sort of experience.
We looked around, and I waved my arms at the paths and trees and tall grasses that reached above our heads. I pointed out a tiny butterfly that landed near my feet.
“There’s plenty to see here,” I thought to myself. “You just have to know how to look.”
This time of year, I look for the orange berries on the bittersweet vine that dangles like beaded garland from the trees. Milkweed pods are exploding with gossamer-winged seeds. Common buckeyes still feed on purple asters, while cabbage whites and clouded sulphurs dance on the breeze. Praying mantises move slowly among the tall grasses, looking for a place to deposit their egg cases. Watch where you step, because a garter snake may be slithering along, unaware of your approach.
Tall grasses move in the breeze like fans doing the wave at a football game. Yellow leaves drift down from above, while red berries gleam from the autumn olive shrubs.
There’s plenty to hear, too. A loud, crashing sound means that you’ve just disturbed a deer lying in the brush. Look quickly to see the white tail bobbing away! Blue jays cry to warn others of your presence, while woodpeckers drum high in the treetops, searching for food. Dried sycamore leaves crunch underfoot, and chipmunks “squeak!” as they scurry away.
So I had a choice to make, while the man surveyed the scene. Did I let him in on all of this beauty, or keep it to myself?
I suggested a path for him to take, and he asked if there were ticks. “I’m terrified of ticks. Besides, my wife is waiting…”
“She’s right,” I said. “There’s not much here to see.”
There are none so blind as those who will not see. I might have said to him, ... depends what you are looking for.
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