Posts Tagged ‘expectations’

Many nature lovers ache for more close encounters with wildlife.  If wilderness adventures aren’t a possibility for you right now, perhaps answering the call of the wild lies in managing your expectations.

Wild fly visiting a wild daisy

Maybe you’re unknowingly already surrounded by wildlife.  This wildlife may not be getting picked up by your radar because as much as you may want to see it… it doesn’t want to risk any encounter with you.  Back in 2006, scientists estimated that up to 2,000 coyotes were thriving in the city of Chicago.  Raccoons and squirrels also thrive in urban areas.  These often become pests if they are intentionally or inadvertently fed by humans.

Unseen local wildlife may also be nocturnal (like the Eastern American toad shown at top or the raccoon below).  The best times to see activity are at dawn and dusk when animals are waking up or going home to sleep.

Tired raccoon still looking for grubs at the edge of the lawn at sunrise

You may also be underestimating the wild nature of creatures in your own backyard.   Just as fashion magazines have narrowed our vision of beauty over the years, so too have nature programs in exotic locales narrowed our idea of what’s wild.  Even small or unsightly creatures deserve a closer look.  Just be sure to keep a safe distance!  Some  creatures might seem tame but wild is wild. 

Once you begin to observe wildlife in your own backyard, you may notice qualities you didn’t before.  For example, the red squirrel with the sleek fur at bottom left is younger than the one with the nipped ear at right.  You can also see a black stripe between its white underside and brown back which will fade in winter.  Good luck in seeing more wildlife!

Young and old red squirrels foraging for food just before sunrise

If you’d like to learn more about how to see more wildlife, see Sea Urchins in the Woods:  How to See More Wildlife.

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012

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Although seeing a butterfly in springtime is always a joy, seeing one in winter is sure to set anyone’s heart aflutter. 

These fragile creatures, known for their marvelous ability to transform themselves from caterpillar to winged wonder, have often been employed as symbols of the soul, hope and renewal.

In late winter when there is still the threat of harsh weather, one doesn’t expect to find such a delicate creature in the woods. My grandson was turning a log over in the forest to examine a shelf fungus more closely when he caught sight of the butterfly. 

 Though its wings appeared frosted and stiff, we brought it indoors to have a closer look.  We were quickly able to identify it as a Mourning Cloak  (Nymphalis antiopa), a species that can convert glucose into antifreeze in order to survive the cold.  When its wings are closed, showing only the dark undersides, it’s also extremely well camouflaged in dark woods.

What is unsought will go undetected.
~ Sophocles

Too often, we only see what we expect to.  Adults usually don’t expect to see butterflies in winter.  But a five-year-old wouldn’t have such set expectations, so his eyes would not so easily dismiss the shape of delicate wings for dried leaves.  I wondered how many Mourning Cloaks I had missed seeing in the winter woods over the years.

Within minutes of being indoors, the butterfly was opening its wings.  Though it looked a bit ragged, it was still alive.     

The older we get, the better we learn how to manage expectations.  We don’t like to disappoint others and we especially don’t like to disappoint ourselves so we get into the habit of expecting less of everything around us.  Yet, surely there’s something to be lost in lowering expectations in order to avoid disappointment.  Besides butterflies in winter, what else might we be missing?

High expectations are the key to everything.
~  Sam Walton

Thank you to Joseph Belicek of Edmonton Alberta for identifying this butterfly’s subspecies as hyperborea.

Scott over at Views Infinitum is offering a macro photography challenge to all who are interested.  Deadline for submissions is March 23rd.  The close-up images shown above were made by using the macro mode on the Nikon Coolpix S8000.


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As autumn takes hold of the Nova Scotia landscape, trees release to the wind the leaves they’ve nourished since springtime.   When frosty days come around, it’s time to let go.

Though we don’t have leaves to lose at this time of year, perhaps we too have things to release in this season of change…   

Letting go of expectations is a good start.  So often we hold such firm expectations of what life should be like at any given stage, how others should be, how we should be, that we fail to see the what isWho would have thought a fungus could have petals or a log could hold a snowflake?

Wild creatures seem to have so much less of a problem than we do leaving possessions behind that no longer serve a purpose.  It’s odd that we’re the beasts who fiercely hang on tooth and nail to clothes or homes we’ve outgrown and objects that would be better put to use by someone else.  Who’ll find comfort from the winter cold in this abandoned flicker nest?

It’s not the daily increase but the daily decrease.  Hack away at the unessential.
~ Bruce Lee

While summer’s abundant blooms shout out “More is more!” autumn’s Michaelmas daisies whisper wisely “Less is more.”    

What about past successes?  Don’t the things we’ve done well in the past tug at us to continue to do more of the same in the future?  Letting go of these might seem ridiculous unless we consider the toll of doing work that does not fulfill or that may no longer be an expression of who we are now in this new season of life.   A tree that foolishly clings to its beautiful, brightly colored leaves may be completely destroyed in a wind or ice storm.

Perhaps this letting go of our concept of self is the most difficult.  Just as it’s easy to define a tree by its showy leaves, it’s all too easy for us as well to define ourselves simply by our outward skills and talents.  We are so much more and still full of surprises, at any age.  Hey, where did those raspberries come from so late in the year? 

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
~ Lao Tzu

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