Stop, Look, and Listen

In the midst of our busy lives, filled with jobs, families, and responsibilities, another world exists, filled with animals, birds, and plants.  Often we don’t even notice them.  However, if we slow down just a bit to stop, look, and listen, another world awaits us.

A few years ago my family travelled to Yellowstone National Park in Montana.  As we drove through the park, we saw animals that we had never seen before.  Buffalo are much bigger in person than on TV!  Grizzly Bears and cubs are very illusive, but with good binoculars you can observe them up close and personal.  We saw a lone wolf running along a river.  Mountain sheep climbed high among giant rock formations.  Some of the animals were easy to spot.  Buffalo are hard to miss.  But it took real effort to notice that lone wolf.  We paid attention because we didn’t want to miss anything.

I have found that I get the same pleasure noticing animals in my own backyard that I found spotting animals in Yellowstone.  Looking out my kitchen window, I saw a pair of goldfinches hovering around the flower garden.  Watching them flutter over and under the coreopsis and cosmos, and landing on flower stems that bent under their weight was magical.  The male was a beautiful bright yellow, and the female a more subdued shade.


The praying mantis never fails to amaze me.  They are so still and so well camouflaged that you can be looking right at them and not know it.  Seeing them so still, and yet so alert, inspires me.  I enjoy wondering what they are thinking as we stare at each other.

On my way to work I pass farmlands, and fields of soybean and corn.  In early summer I see the first family of groundhogs in a field close to the library.  As summer goes by, they separate, dig their own homes, and grow fatter and fatter.  I’m always surprised to see how fast they can run.

I’m sure everyone has an animal story of their own.  My encounters with the animals in my own neighborhood have brought me much joy.

If you are interested in discovering again the world of nature around you, here are a few books to help you get started:

Nature in the Neighborhood by Gordon Morrison

Nature Adventures, by Mick Manning

Nature All Year Long, by Clare Walker Leslie

- Susan F.

Groundhog courtesy of Vicki's Pics'
Goldfinch courtesy of Conrad Kuiper
Praying Mantis courtesy of romanoski


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