We returned from our 3 day camping trip this evening and will be heading out to Madison tomorrow to walk in the Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes. We ended up going down to Shawnee National Forest….again. This was our fourth trip down there together. The chance to spend a few more days in summer temperatures was just too appealing to pass up. I loved watching the fall colors intensify as we drove north again today. There were rain clouds in the area still and rainbows to accentuate the play of late afternoon sun. I am glad to be back up in Wisconsin where the reds of sumac and maple have taken their place in the fall palette. Down south on the Mississippi we got a chance to see migrating birds. The snake migration was also going on, we heard, but we weren’t looking for them. What we did see were flocks of white pelicans doing aerial maneuvers that took my breath away. Going in one direction, they are brilliant white in the sun. Then they turn, and you see the black undersides of their wings. It’s magical!
Can you imagine what it might have been like to be Meriwether Lewis or William Clark and see wildlife in the kinds of number that populated the United States in 1804? I get excited seeing a few dozen turkey vultures sunning themselves in the early morning. I wonder how many they saw on a daily basis during their expedition?
What would be the difference in our cultural ideas about nature and conservation if experiences of wildlife sighting weren’t “exotic” but commonplace? Would we feel more or less concerned about the web of biodiversity?