Fascinating to watch
“The common animals, birds and insects that are found in a little yard in the city are as fascinating to watch, and as fruitful in affording the careful observer a glimpse into some of the mysteries of nature, as are the rare and uncommon creatures of some far-off land.” – Leonard Dubkin
While our tour group was walking from the entrance of Mexico’s Parque Nacional Tulum along the path to the ruins, our guide said something that made me laugh: “Don’t stop to take photos of the iguanas. You will see more iguanas than people when we get to the ruins.”
That turned out to be not much of an exaggeration. As promised, the iguanas were everywhere. I took almost as many photos of these beautifully ugly creatures as I did of the lovely excavated village perched on a cliff overlooking the sea. I was not the only one; I saw as many people stopping to watch these over-sized lizards as I saw admiring the expansive landscape. The guides, I’m sure, must have been fairly bored by the iguanas — and by our fascination with them.
I was reminded of a co-worker I knew many years ago, who was an immigrant from Egypt. She used to love watching the squirrels play in the park outside our office building. I assumed she was unaccustomed to seeing them, since most of us scarcely noticed them as we paced quickly past, lost inside our thoughts.
It has been said that familiarity breeds contempt, but that may be an overstatement, unless one defines contempt as unintentional disregard. When I stop to think about it, I’m quite fond of the familiar, as I think most of us are. We are proud of our towns, happy with our homes and lawns, fond of our neighbors and friends. The problem is, I don’t stop to think about it often enough.
One reason I love travel is that it helps me see the everyday through opened eyes. Given a choice, I would prefer my endearing local critters to the iguanas, though I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to see them up close.
When spring arrives, or maybe even before it does, I’m going to try seeing the birds and squirrels and butterflies as if I had never seen a single one of them before. Can you imagine how exciting it would be to see a butterfly for the first time? To hear the trilling of a cheerful bird in the morning and wonder where the sound came from? To watch the astounding agility of a squirrel as it flits about among the trees?
As the weather warms and we are able to be outside more often, I wish you many fruitful observations of our common animals. They always brighten my day, as I hope they do yours.