“Human beings can always be relied upon to exert, with vigor, their God-given right to be stupid. ”
People being who they are, I fear this could be a running series, but today’s thought is concerned with the idea of nature preserves. In order to be sure of my definitions, I went and looked up the words:
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin natura, from natus, past participle of nasci to be born
Date: 14th century
The inherent character or basic constitution of a person or thing (essence, disposition, temperament)
The external world in its entirety
Etymology: Middle English, from Medieval Latin praeservare, from Late Latin, to observe beforehand, from Latin prae- + servare to keep, guard, observe
Date: 14th century
1: to keep safe from injury, harm, or destruction (protect)
2 a: to keep alive, intact, or free from decay (maintain)
An area restricted for the protection and preservation of natural resources (as animals or plants).
3. “Nature, in the broadest sense, is equivalent to the natural world, physical universe, material world or material universe. “Nature” refers to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general. Manufactured objects and human interaction are not considered part of nature unless qualified in ways such as “human nature” or “the whole of nature”. Nature is generally distinguished from the supernatural. It ranges in scale from the subatomic to the galactic.” (Wikipedia)
So now that we know a nature preserve is an area set aside in order to preserve and maintain the integrity of a specific environment (terrain, plant life) and its inhabitants (animals, birds, insects, etc.), I will get to the point of today’s piece.
There is some acreage located not too far from where we live; acreage deeded by its owner to the Village in which it resides with the stipulation that it be maintained as a nature preserve. I’ve come to know it well over the course of many years, and it is a true little gem of an urban oasis teeming with delights and surprises within both its native prairie and deep woods – if one takes the time to be still, watch, and listen.
Unfortunately, there are those who see it as little more than a dog park and despite the sign at the entrance that clearly states in large letters that dogs must be leashed, many are the times we have arrived with cameras in tow only to find large dogs running willy-nilly across the prairie and through the woods, scaring everything wild away or into hiding. This summer has been particularly plagued with the regular morning appearance of some apparent retirees; usually a gathering of old men who take a stroll through the preserve while most of their dogs do what typical, large domestic dogs do best – run wild and disturb the peace.
To their credit, the local police department takes the leash law seriously and will dispatch an officer when called.
This morning, on a much-needed early morning photography mini-safari, I spotted one of the regulars. This time it seemed he was with his wife. They were quite far away and I paid them no attention, though I could hear, due to our respective positions at opposite sides of the prairie, courtesy of the large storm run-off system which was placed on the property some years ago, what sounded suspiciously like snarky chiding when they spotted me.
I settled back down into my chair and continued to watch the song birds and a large fox squirrel feasting on the copious, heavy-hanging seeds of one of the trees at the edge of the prairie. After a while, I noticed the old woman coming towards me on the center east-west path across the prairie, a German shepherd pulling her along from the straining end of its leash.
“You aren’t going to leave that tobacco out here, are you?” she snarled at me by way of cantankerous greeting.
I assured her that I leave no trash behind me no matter where I go, then she began to chide me about calling the police on them. Some babbling about “speed dial” and so on.
“But your dog is on a leash?” I queried.
This garnered more blathering about calls to the police so I reminded her that this was, after all, a nature preserve.
With a wave at the tall meadow grasses and flowers surrounding us, she looked at me and said with great disdain, “Oh yeah? So what do they preserve here? Grass?”
People unclear on the concept. It was all I could do to not laugh out loud, harder still when she told me in no uncertain, scolding terms that I am on their “shit list” and walked away.
Here’s your sign, lady.