I’ve been a nature freak (no, not a freak of nature) for so long I never stopped to wonder who placed this love in my heart. From my earliest memories I loved to wander–much to Mom’s dismay. I loved to follow railroad tracks or cross the street to see our neighbor’s big old turtle–it didn’t help Mom’s stress level that I was three at the time, and it was a busy street. For many decades in my adult life I’ve had a passion for following trails–even cattle trails that eventually led me back to where I started. But this wandering gave me time with God and a profound fascination with the beauty of His creation.
My daddy, an old battered, chain-smoking farmer who worked two jobs, would drop whatever he was doing on the farm when he saw something he wanted to share. He would run into the house and drag Mom and me outside to see his latest discovery, whether it be a baby possum, a raccoon or a wandering bad eagle. Now that I recall those times, I know exactly who led me down the path of loving nature.
Once I watched the birth of a baby calf, and more than once the births of baby pigs–even in the middle of the night Daddy would come in and wake me up and lead me in my pajamas to see little piglets being born. I remember a pet baby skunk that had apparently gotten lost from his mother. At any rate, he wasn’t inclined to spray us, so he and Daddy remained buddies for awhile.
We always had animals around the house, from dogs and cats to chickens, horses, cattle and pigs. My favorite were of the wild variety–the ones Daddy would drag me to see, like an armadillo like the one in the picture, or a herd of deer in the woods, a pack of coyotes, a rattlesnake. My father’s appreciation for wildlife put me at ease when I came upon something, myself, such as a mother skunk and her babies or a bright green tree snake, and indigo bunting (lovely bird) or a lost baby rabbit. Once I was grown, Daddy would save his findings. He caught a bat in an old jar to hold for me to see when I drove out to the farm one day. By the time I arrived, there were two bats in the jar–the mother had given birth. I released them, loving my dad for inspiring me. I don’t have any doubt about who nurtured my love of wildlife.
The armadillo pictured here was one of my finds when I was out hiking in the prairie. I heard rustling out in the brush, and I knew from experience what it was. I slowly walked directly up to the rooting animal and stood there until he rooted my boot, looking for something to eat. He gave up a moment later and wandered off, ignorant of my presence. Fascinating.
I hope you give yourself time to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation today, no matter the weather. There is a wonderful bounty of wild, fascinating animals, and you might just find we share a romance with nature.