August 26, 2017

First Steps

Not my first hike, ever, but the first in this, my latest campaign to dispense with half my body weight and live forever. I admit this doesn't sound like subject matter for a naturalist's journal, but, to fall back on an old saw, --Ow!--things are not always what they seem. The fact is, I've been observing the behavior of other living things -- and sometimes non-living things like the mailbox I mistook for a quadruped, prompting me to slam on the brakes and back up, yelling "Animal! Animal!" to the great consternation/wry amusement of my wife and daughter on a road trip a few years ago-- as long as I can remember. The kids in my second grade class labeled me a freak because when we visited a nature center on a field trip, I knew the names of all the stuffed animals without reading the labels, and could discourse at length on their sundry habits and life cycles. It wasn't that I was a prodigy of natural science, just that I remembered everything I read or was told about nature because it fascinated me, as opposed to everything else I read or was told about which was of little or no interest to me whatsoever.

One problem that arose was that some of the things that I had been told (and had, in turn, told others) weren't true. For instance, I once asked my father where quicksand could be found in our home state of Michigan. "Up near Flint," my father replied (we lived in Ann Arbor, so Flint was "up.") At least a decade passed before I realized that my father had probably made that answer up out of whole cloth, just to get me to stop asking him silly questions. His perfidiousness was deeply disturbing to me, because I had been picturing the torturous deaths of animals and people slowly sinking in the deadly quagmires of Flint ever since. If I couldn't trust dad for good information about nature, who could I trust?

Nature itself, maybe? I grew up on the western edge of town, within walking or biking distance of forests, rivers, lakes and swamps. But alas, I'm in danger of getting too far afield for this first entry, at any rate. Suffice it to say, I spent a lot of time in the woods, logged many miles on hiking trails when I was young. Flash forward twenty-five years. I haven't been able to spend much time outdoors for a long time. My girth has increased two-fold. I've forgotten half of what I knew when I was in second grade and besides, I live in Southern California now, and I know very little about the local flora and fauna. But, all of that is going to change, I swear! I've committed to taking a morning hike three times a week and this journal will be the record of my observations and reflections.

Posted on August 26, 2017 04:16 PM by argyl argyl | 0 comments | Leave a comment