By Ranger Steve Mueller
A clear black sky perforated with brilliant illuminations from countless stars lighted the luge-like chute depression of our snow path during last night’s walk. Crisp snow squeaked under foot in the -9 degrees Fahrenheit air. No owls called. It was too early for activity. I have not discovered a particular hour Barred Owls select to call. They seem to call earlier in the evening than the Great Horned Owl. Horned owls schedule hoots for midnight and again at 5:30 a.m. in mid winter.
The New Year is an exciting time for emergence and rebirth of one’s spirit from the womb of the year. Old memories are lost in recesses of the mind and only resurface when triggered by smells, sights, sounds, tastes, or touches that draw them forth. The Pleiades star constellation is a distant friend that looks like the Big Dipper removed so far in space that it looks like a dipper that has lost size. The depth of the dark night reveals the immense size of surroundings.
It is only with thought that we penetrate time and space in any real manner. Both are too remote to experience with our physical senses. With our physical senses we enter the natural world to gain access to the spirit of the universe. Physical senses allow us to experience the wonders around us. Then we can contemplate and reflect on the spirit of nature and begin to understand the wonders of birds, plants, mammals, water, insects, and air in the natural world. Our place in the universe is small. The big dipper is perceptively small when compared with its galaxy. The galaxy is minuscule among the billions and billions of galaxies peppering light throughout the grand darkness of space.
Time loses meaning in the distance of space but here on Earth it is real. We share nature niches in a fleeting moment of time and space with other species. For that instant it is the most important moment of life. There is no past and no future at the moment when I see a chickadee, hear its call, or feel its presence as it wings past my hand at the feeder. For that moment we are alone and yet together in the universe at the same time in the same space. The universe has suddenly been reduced in size by my perception and a spiritual bond is created between bird and me.
Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at firstname.lastname@example.org Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433.