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As Good An Explanation As Any

There is another kind of hunter, who never carries a weapon, who always sees the wildlife around him. He goes forth to discover and admire, not to kill. And since all living things, even plants, like to be loved and told how wonderful they are, they are not reluctant about showing themselves when this person comes along.

– Alexander Key

Heh. Just tripped over this quote and liked it. Call me sentimental, but frankly, when people ask me how I manage to see so many things in the garden, this is as good an explanation as any.

(Mind you, I would also accept “entertainment value” as an explanation, since lord knows, it’s not stealth or skill that’s doing it. For all I know, the caterpillars are having a good snicker behind my back… )

Originally published at Squash's Garden. You can comment here or there.

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I've been told i notice things more than "average" people (meaning smells, tiny animals running around outside, leaves, random stuff, etc), that i'm more "observant". I don't really think this is true, I think I'm just easily distracted which means I can pick out details and stuff to distract myself more easily than people with more easily focused minds. :P

This is about how it is for me. I can't ever focus on one thing at a time, so I end up seeing a little bit of everything. Comes in handy when you're a fan of shows like Lost and Community where what's going on in the foreground is only half the plot.

My dad has a story:

He was walking along a busy city street with a friend of his.

"Listen," she said. "There's a cricket."

He listened, and indeed there was one. He praised her hearing, and her ability to pick that tiny sound out of the bustle. She smiled, took a coin out of her purse, and deliberately dropped it on the sidewalk. Heads turned for quite some distance around them, before everyone went back to their business.

"It's not about how good your hearing is. It's about what you're listening for."

Reminds me of when I used to go for walks with my cat*, who had grown up indoors and therefore wasn't much of a hunter. Any bird that had a nest nearby would come really close to keep an eye on the cat, while ignoring me. And the cat ignored the birds, too; he'd learned not to mess with them the very first time he went outside on his own, and was promptly crapped on by a fieldfare.

*He wasn't on a leash, he just followed me around. I miss that cat.

I had a cat who did the same thing--every day we would go for a walk in the yard, no leash, mostly no fence. She was an indoor cat but she'd follow me when we were outside. I think outside-time with my cat was the highlight of my childhood. :)

I have found, when practising mediation, that if you just pick a spot and sit very still, you generally see more wild-life than you would walking around. I've had rabbits hop up and sit on my feet, wood-mice investigate my beard [that tickled] and once a deer come up and touch noses.

Of course, it helps if you're prepared to sit still for a few hours at least....

It depends how quiet you are I've scared the living daylights out of a mouse or two because it hasn't heard me walking up behind it.

Better idea than the caterpillars are laughing up their sleeves at you. Still it's one reason I prefer to walk to and from work, I get to observe much more of my surroundings.

It's better to observe than see.

Now I want an image of a few caterpillars snickering and chatting about that daft human who shows up at all hours of the day and coos over their everyday* antics.

*Which is completely different from their holiday antics which consists of snail jousting, milkweed milking and leaf wrangling world championships.

That's a lovely quote - I will say that I do know some of the other kind of hunter who approach nature with a similar attitude. They are the minority though. I think a lot of people walk around without ever really LOOKING. They aren't tuned in to what's going on around them. With your garden, you see it every day, you know what should be there and what's new, and you're actually paying attention.

From talking to authors, I've noticed that many of them are what I would call, "idea hunters." They're constantly aware, because there's ideas everywhere, and in the process, they get to see things other people don't notice.

I'm not sure an author like this started out aware, and became a writer, or the other way around, but I suspect that both paths are well-traveled.

Is this the same Alexander Key that's the YA science fiction writer that wrote The Forgotten Door? Cause I LOVED that shit growing up.

I like to think, that in the 1800s, you would have been a most esteemed naturalist.

I think it is focus, what is important to you. Stephen Jay Gould visited the Leakey's search site in Kenya, where they were searching for bone fragments in, essentially, gravel. They found teeth, he, a snail man, found a snail. It is what your mind is attuned to.

Hee! This quote makes me think of Stephen Maturin, the physician & naturalist from Master and Commander. Though, granted, probably only because I've been reading the series recently.

What randombler said. I spent my childhood in rural Georgia having animals pointed out to me by my father (who could spot an unmoving copperhead on a red-dirt road the same color as the snake, from the window of a car moving 35 mph).

As a result, I have a REALLY GOOD search image for most of the local wildlife. If we're driving along and there's a hawk, snake, rabbit, woodchuck, whatever, I'm usually the first to see it, even though my actual visual acuity is pretty bad, even with glasses.

I once had a friend who was a paleontologist, and he could go out to the Hell Creek Formation in eastern Montana, peer at the ground for a few minutes, and pick up what looked to me like a perfectly normal rock that would turn out to be a fossilized shark tooth.

And I always do much better animal-sighting in Yellowstone when I have a passenger in the car than I do when I'm alone. Yes, they can see more critters because they're not driving, but I spot more critters when they're in the car with me than when they're not, even though I'm driving. I've never quite been able to figure that one out. That's how I saw wolves the only two times I've ever seen wolves there. And at least two of the bears I've seen there.

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