Posted by: oceannah | June 12, 2012

Wild Kingdom

When I was a kid I looked forward every week to the big intro….  Mutual of Omaha Presents, Wild Kingdom.  I recall it with such fondness.  Learning about animals and traveling, through the magic of the vacuum tube, to far away lands with exotic animals was by far a high point of my week as a kid.

These days the vacuum tube has given way to YouTube, and pretty much everything is available at the click of a mouse or a tap of the screen.  The magic for me these days comes from simply opening my door and stepping outside.  I live in a rural area.  We have no neighbors nearby except those dwelling in woods or fields.

Some days you have to look for the wild things, other days they come right up and greet you. This Luna Moth appeared on my pants leg while I was puttering around in the garden. How you may ask did the flapping of a rather large month NOT call my attention? I can only say I was probably munching on a strawberry at the time or otherwise lost in thought as the garden has a way of doing.

Yesterday morning I drove the crew in to school, one car was in the shop.  While hubby got the Times my daughter and I waited in the car.  Then she said rather casually, “Hey Mama, look an eagle.”  Sure enough there was a Bald Eagle hunting for breakfast on the river.  This was the second Bald Eagle I’ve seen in less than a week.  My daughter followed up with, “I don’t know why you get so excited to see an eagle.”  Now we’ve read Silent Spring as a family reading so she knows the plight of the eagles in the mid 70’s.  She just could not imagine that seeing eagles was out of the ordinary.

The past few days I’ve been thinking of all the wildlife I am privileged to witness on a regular basis.  From the black bear whose hind end I saw shuffling into the forest while the dog went haywire, to the beavers working on their dam.  The ever present white tailed deer and cottontail rabbits.  Being awakened by owls in the night is a fairly regular occurrence.  Petting a garter snake who was still slow in the morning chill while picking berries or being called out by my husband to see a large red snake (probably a redbellied snake) only to stand there wanting as he says, “Ooops there it goes.”   It is a gift, and not one I take for granted.

When I was teaching Environmental Education to inner city youths I would take them on walks and attempt to show them some of the wild offerings.  It was rare indeed for us to actually encounter animals as the kids were l.o.u.d.  Often times even when walking with adults I see things they do not.  Do I posses some special vision?  Well, yes, in fact I do.  I learned a long time ago a technique called ‘wide angle vision’.  Instead of focusing the eyes as we do to say, read this print, I open to using peripheral vision.  A good way to practice is to spread out your arms and wiggle your fingers until you can see them.  Another ‘trick’ for spotting wild life (aside from the very obvious quiet required) is to keenly pay attention to horizontal lines.  Most of the natural world is vertical.  If your eyes catch a horizontal line off in the woods say, it is likely the back of a deer say, or some other more interesting critter….it could also be a fallen tree though.  And while I would agree that one of the most important things needed for witnessing wild life is access to their habitat and regular visitation of said habitat… Sometimes it is literally happenstance.  The eagle the other morning was nothing more than a gift.  Sometimes all that is required of us is to simply look up!




  1. Ah, you can see without looking; a very important skill for hunting; even if it’s just picking fruit (or hunting Tomato Hornworm; )
    Looking at Luna’s wings, I’m guessing that she may have crawled up your leg rather than flew, as she still looks a little crumpled? Don’t worry “Hawkeye” you haven’t lost it… 😀

    • Interesting moth, that. Was definitely on the rumpled side…always a thrill, I ended up letting the Luna hang out a long while. I took two pics then we had a moth-y meditation of sorts till off it flew…into the woods.

  2. I love happenstance, and I like your lesson on peripheral vision and widening my world view –

    • Me too! Serendipity, happenstance by any name it is the meat in the soup ;O

      • “…Serendipity, happenstance, by any name it is the meat in the soup…” love this – so evocative.
        Speaking of being still – it’s got me thinking about “Wild Kingdom” – can still hear Merlin/Marvin(?) Thomas'(?) commentary in the far reaches of memory. And wasn’t it on right before Walt Disney on Sunday night? Well, I’m pretty sure it was here in Ontario anyway. (Still trying to figure out how many decades ago that was… Ack, nevermind!; )

      • Yeah and the young buck who did all the dirty work 😉 It was before Disney here too. And it was ‘back in the day’ as they say…let’s just leave it at that.

      • Oh yeah…. His name was Jim maybe? (One of my first semi crushes, I’d guess; ))

  3. im terrible with bugs, i cant stand them on me. i would have screamed and whacked it off my leg unfortunately!!

    • haha But they’re so pretty 🙂

  4. I remember Wild Kingdom…one of my favourite childhood shows. I’m blessed to make my home on the shores of a lovely lake here, and the wildlife that comes to teach me every day is astounding. The Earth is there waiting to ground us if only we open our eyes and ears and slow down for a moment…

    • Ahhh you are so right! we must open our eyes. Love that you are on a lake that must be beautiful. We have rivers here. Lakes nearby only.

  5. We have seen more and more eagles…makes me so excited I want to jump up and down and scream “I just saw an eagle” !!! I love that they are coming back!!

    • I’m with you!! Just a total thrill for me every single time 🙂

  6. Being in the mountains the last few days has been awesome… I saw my very first groundhog on Sunday!

    • The mountains are lovely indeed. But if I had my way, I’d be living closer to the coast. It IS beautiful here, but I long for the briny blue waters.

  7. I feel the need to be honest with you. I would have run away from that moth. I like my moths to be tiny and white.

    • Kristina, That is so funny it made me laugh… tiny white moths 🙂 I appreciate your honesty I feel the same way about some parasites 😉

  8. Ah, will I ever see a luna moth … must work on my vision.

    • They are pretty magical moths, I was surprised by this one.

  9. Such a wonderful post. I had to comment and share the love! I am so happy I found you so I can enjoy your wondrous musings and wise thoughts. I too ‘pet’ the sleepy garters and love all the wildlife sightings I get to enjoy. I also love listening too, and hearing what birds have returned to the area around my house. Looking up to see the falcons screeching about something. The Flicker on the telephone pole, drumming out his prowess. The Nuthatches pipping their way down the spruce trunk. I love it all, and I feel right at home here on your blog! Warm gratitude, Gina

    • Oh Gina thanks for your beautiful comments. I have a real fondness for flicker. You’re always welcome here 🙂

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