189. Changing Course
I am officially a "mature dog" and I find myself being more inclined to watching squirrels rather than chasing them. My ability to type on a laptop keyboard is diminished by my less than 20/20 eyesight. I like to take afternoon siestas and prefer short excursions. I have decided to turn over my writing duties to my able human office mate, Sandy. I am retiring with an imperceptible transition, returning to my canine purpose on this earth of being devoted. This change in course will give full voice to my creative mentor.
A change in course is a common event in the natural world. Nothing stays the same; rivers change their paths of least resistance as they flow toward the sea, the heavenly bodies continue to move away from each other in their expansion, the clouds form into endless shapes and dissipate and reform, time moves forward and what was never is again. I embrace change as a logical step in progressing forward in space and time.
I thought of something that I used to like to do when I was young and I think it is still a great idea. This is a fun activity for an individual or a group and it gets you outside and looking at the world. Try going on a nature Treasure Hunt. You can go in your own backyard or a park or recreation area. A treasure hunt list helps you explore the wonders of nature by looking more carefully at the smaller details in the world. I love looking at common things in a different way.
Here's two Nature Treasure Hunt lists that you can use to explore the outdoors. Spending time outdoors helps to develop an appreciation for nature and a conservation ethic. As cities encroach on wildlife habitat and open lands shrink, the need to make sure that there are still places to go that are natural is more pressing. Our modern lives disconnect us from nature and nature goes unnoticed. When nature is disregarded or taken for granted, we run the risk of disinterest in conservation. I don't want natural areas and animals to disappear so that they are curiosities that are seen only in pictures.
There are already species that are gone forever that we living today only can see in a book. When I was growing up, I used to regularly catch the Texas Horned Lizard that was plentiful in my North Texas neighborhood.
I only caught them to study their spiny scales and their splotchy coloring that served as camouflage and then released them into the wild. I remember turning them over in my palm and stroking the smooth pale scales on the underbelly and marveling at the difference from the rough prickly texture on the topside of its body. I could go out any day and find them sunning on a rock or brick ledge. I have not seen a horned lizard in thirty years. Have I witnessed an extinction in my lifetime?
I have tree lizards in the back yard that are similarly colored to the Horned Lizard but they have a longer tail, more slender body and don't sport the large head horns. They are very fast and wary, blend perfectly with the tree bark and are difficult to watch for very long before they disappear.
I also have some lovely anoles which are mostly a bright lime green as they adapt their color to the plant foliage they inhabit. Anoles have the ability to change color based on their mood or surroundings but are not chameleons or geckos. They are actually more closely related to the iguana and usually live for four to eight years. Anoles are very territorial and will fan their throat skin out and display a bright red pouch while giving off ultrasonic hisses to scare off an intruder. They are fascinating and prehistoric looking creatures.
Find out more about conservation of the environment and wildlife at the Lone Star Chapter of Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, the National Wildlife Federation or the World Wildlife Fund.
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