Yet another great week of experiences, here at Shepherd’s Corner, to add to the books! On Wednesday I had the privilege to survey the wildlife with Jim Davidson. He is a retired pathologist (a physician who examines tissue, checks the accuracy of lab tests, and interprets the results for proper diagnosis and treatment) who has a genuine love for nature, and has spent much of free time enjoying the many gifts that Mother Nature has to offer.
I wasn’t sure what to expect for this walk, as far as how much we were going to be able to identify because Jim even said, “I’m not an expert. I’m a retired pathologist, and looking at wildlife is just a hobby.” I was just grateful that he was willing to take time out of his day to help with surveying because every little bit is significant. Much to my surprise, HE KNEW SO MUCH!!! I could barely write down what he was identifying fast enough!
It was fun getting to know more about him as we walked. He went to school for pathology, and after many years of schooling he got his first job at 30 years old. He retired 20 years later, and has spent the last 30 years doing “whatever [he] wants!” I was amazed that he was able to retire after only 20 years of working (sounded like my kind of future!), and I was even more amazed that he was 80 years old! We walked around the whole property starting at 9am and ending at 3:30pm, with a short break for lunch!
We were able to identify an impressive amount of species, including many butterflies, dragonflies, plants, and fungi. When Jim showed up in a shirt with giant dragonflies on it, I had a feeling that they were a big interest of his, and I was right! We saw, and identified many species of dragonflies, such as the green darker, and white-tailed. Most of the ones we spotted were by the vernal pool, and down sitting on the rocks in the creek. They like to bask their wings in the sun, so with some patience we were able to see them land on the rocks that were in full sunlight. I learned something else about dragonflies too, which is that they don’t hang out around vernal pools that have fish in them because are their predators.
As we were heading back to the barn at the end of our excursion, Jim said “When I go out into nature I say that I am going out amongst friends. When I learn the name of a plant, insect, etc., they have now become my friend… Like when you learn the name of a new person. It becomes personal.”
When Jim said this I really took it to heart, and I wish that more people would learn to think like this. Knowing the name of something in nature does make the relationship with it more personal, and the diverse life on Earth gets that much closer to truly becoming one… in both body, mind, and spirit.