In the summer of 2016 came a news report of two tourists in Yellowstone National Park who picked up a wandering bison calf, put it in their car, and drove it to a ranger station because they thought the calf appeared cold. After repeated failed attempts to rejoin the calf to the herd, the animal had to be euthanized.
Park rangers felt compelled to point out that national parks are not national petting zoos.
Modern life is all about distancing ourselves from discomfort and work. The goal is to get as far away as possible from the occasionally unpleasant effects of the outside world. This leads some to consider a trip to the wilderness on a par with eating popcorn in a cool 3-D theater, where Disney animals stick to the script and perform for our pleasure. Nature — real nature — where the harsh realities of life still exist, are blithely ignored. After all, if it wasn’t safe, they wouldn’t let us in, right? The lawyers would never allow that. And so we pay at the gate, confident of our comfort and safety except perhaps for some preproduced peril that’s all just part of the show.
But nature’s lessons haven’t gone away. We, on the other hand, have moved far enough from nature’s classroom that we may have little aptitude for learning what it teaches.
For those who’ve missed it, here what nature has taught me through the years about life, despite all my efforts to ignore its lessons.
The law of the harvest. That reap-sow thing. We all get it in theory, but a surprising number of people still seem to think they can ignore their education and still get high-paying jobs. Or get promoted for doing the absolute minimum of what’s expected at work.
The law of lawn mowing. Grass must be tended, or our homes become neighborhood blights. That’s why we clean ourselves up if we expect to be taken seriously in the world.
The law of seasons. No matter how good things are right now, someday they’ll be worse and we’ll wish for more light. No matter how bad things are right now, someday they’ll be better and we’ll breathe easier. Nature is always preparing for the changes.
The law of bugs. Things are never what they appear to be on the surface. Underneath there are always bugs doing dirty work we chose to ignore. When we finally notice them they can be annoying. Happiness and beauty are always tinged with mosquitoes and earthworms.
The law of the jungle. One way or another, we must decide what we want to achieve, and then work like hell to achieve it.
The law of the wind. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.
The law of rain. We may not like it, but we need it. For all we gripe when it gets in our way, the final results are beautiful. No rain, no life.
The law of seeds. The actions of today will bear fruit ... someday. It may take years, or even decades. But the fruit, good or bad, will come. Hope you like yours.
The law of fire. You should wait a while before, well, you know. In the long run both of you will feel better about it.
The law of insecticide, 1 and 2. One, We can mess with nature, but one way or another there will be a price to pay. And two, what ensures our comfort rains death on other life. We can get away with this with bugs, perhaps. People, not so much.
The law of fall leaves. When they get old, leaves turn especially beautiful for a season before finally letting go. People are the same way, if only we have eyes for their beauty.
The law of the big whammy. No matter how much we prepare, Nature can still level us in a heartbeat. Depending on circumstances, we’re all only a day or two away from becoming refugees. Don’t be smug. Lend a hand.