In my class, Master Naturalist, we talked about what makes someone a “naturalist.” There are famous ones, like Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Jane Goodall. But what about regular people not in a wildlife or biologist profession?
Perhaps it is through a love of nature that one becomes a ‘naturalist.’ Perhaps a realization that humans are not above nature, but rather a part of it. Sometimes it is the call of a single animal that brings people to nature, and other times a love of flowers, or butterflies, or bees. When I was growing up just a cement drive from Detroit, there was a local creek that ran under the highway. I tried fishing there, using hot dog bits as as bait. Dad and I even went fishing at a lake on occasion, although I now realize that neither of us knew what we were doing. Still, it was fun. Later, when we moved further out from the city, we lived near a “woods” – more likely an undeveloped area surrounded by the suburb, that kids would walk in. It was a great place to get away and pretend to be in the wild.
Over my life, I’ve been bitten by a variety of creatures. Cats and dogs, certainly. Mosquitoes. A squirrel (I was feeding nuts to a squirrel on campus, and the squirrel decided my thumb was a nut), a pelican, a duck. In every case, I can see where my actions encouraged the animal to bite me. Now, these are just rather fond memories. Except for the mosquitoes.
I’ve never been stung by a bee.
As for becoming a naturalist, I suspect I am just learning. On a bear mast (food) and scat hike today, the other two women with me knew a lot about the plants in the area. They pointed out chokeberry, wild raspberry, lots of strawberry, super-tall dandelions, wild gardenia, various relatives of peas, and lots of other plants that I don’t really know yet. I also found my first bear scat. One of the women told me that “I am no longer a (bear scat) virgin.” This time of year, bears are eating a lot of grasses and bugs from under rocks. We saw a lot of overturned rocks and bear scrapings on trees.
Besides, it is beautiful in the mountains.