If you were to ask me what makes me tick, what actually makes me live, I would have to parse it down to two words: animal life.
I grew up in the woods. My family home was located down a limestone gravel driveway that cut its way through a stand of secondary growth hardwood forest. Wild things were there.
There were also tame things. My grandparents lived just yards from parents, and their dogs and those of my parents mixed together. I got to be around a lot of different dogs as a child. Dogs are always going to be my favorite animals. I don’t think they are ever going to stop fascinating me.
My grandfather worked in a very remote area, and when I was small, he was still working. He was always bringing me home things in his lunch bucket–fence lizards, skinks, maybe a ring-necked snake. One he brought me home a dead screech owl. It had been hit by a car, and when my grandpa came across it, it was still alive. He put it in his lunch bucket, but it must have died during the day.
It was a little russet-colored owl with huge yellow eyes. I didn’t know that it was illegal for me to have it, but I got to take to school and do a show and tell.
I did the same with a shrew that my grandpa managed to catch at the edge of his garden. I was in second grade, and I do remember going through the evolutionary history of shrews– at least what I’d seen on PBS. I think that I had unfortunately placed the native shrew with the treeshrews, but how was a second-grader supposed to know the difference?
I just like animals. I like writing about them. I like talking about them. I like going to places where i might actually run into something unexpected.
But even something as banal as a cottontail rabbit running for the cover is enough to lift my spirits and spark my imagination.
I still look at the other creatures in much the same way I did that screech owl.
They are at once wondrous as well as mysterious but strangely familiar.
Western man has deluded himself into denying that he is an animal, but when I beyond the other creatures, I feel a kinship– one that cannot be denied or obfuscated.
It is that unadulterated “animality” that keeps me going.
I have to recharge and reconnect with that essence on a regular basis. Otherwise, I become dull, listless, even melancholic.
One of the main purposes of this blog is share with you my passions– maybe give you a chance to recharge and reconnect with your own animalness.
Just for a bit.
And if not, just indulge me.