Wednesday, August 12, 2009

An inquiring mind once wanted to know...

No official birding the past few days, but I have the day off tomorrow, so I might slap a ton of sunblock on myself (doxy helps me burn in about 5 minutes in the sun) and head to a few local spots that were shown to me by our lovely "suep" over at

I've been trying to get used to my part-time job (aka not enough hours and therefore not enough income, but at least I'm now working). I like it already, though the past two days have felt SO long. I like to go outside for my lunch break, and have noticed it's an okay spot for birds. It's located off Haviland Road in Queensbury, and I've spotted about 8 house sparrows, 1 American crow, 2 American goldfinches, 1 northern cardinal calling from off in the distance, and a blue jay making a bit of noise. Today during lunch I heard about 4 cedar waxwings, but couldn't find them. Something apparently found my car between the hours of 12:45 PM and 5 PM though! I had parked under this very nice, shady tree (can't yet ID it) and when I got out, my windshield was COVERED with red and blue bird doody! Most people would be totally annoyed at this, but I was somewhat delighted. It is as if my bird friends left me presents to say, "I was here!"

Sort of bird-related. Lately I've remembered something an intern counselor from my college had asked me. That's right, Bill Chase, if you're out there somewhere, I recall you asking me something about if my treks out to nature were an escape, a way to avoid dealing with life problems. At the time, I felt annoyed and defensive at this question, seeing it as a way of invalidating my times in the wild, which it obviously was not. So funny I would even see it that way, as the question was coming from someone who also had a B.S. in science and would certainly understand the powerful draw that the outdoors has on someone.

I now know my answer to this question, and I so badly wish I could tell him that answer. It is yes and no. Nature for me is a way to escape being drowned in problems, to distance myself from the immediacy of those threats. The physical space I put between problems and myself when I head out to the woods helps me to detach from them emotionally as well. But I use my time out there to focus on those problems, to turn them over in my head, in a more objective light. I cannot seem to find any other space where this works. Some people have a special place in their houses where they can go off by themselves to think, to brainstorm, to come up with solutions, be it the bathroom, the swimming pool, or the shower. For me it is where it is green. Recent research has actually shown that people think the best when surrounded by this color. I don't recall why. I also know that being in nature really clears my head. It's almost a spiritual cleansing. A release of toxins, of stress. The exercise is part of it. The peace, the feeling of returning to a more primitive existence, bare-bones survival is the rest of it. I'm sure many other outdoorspeople completely understand this, and apparently people who are suffering badly do as well, as apparently many, many people choose the wild as the last place they want to be before taking their own lives.

To put it simply, going into the wild heals me.

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