3.24.2011

The Road Less Hiked

I've been very pleased that the weather has warmed up considerably, and that the first signs of spring started peeking out at us. This translates into long afternoon hikes with Benny. Can you say: cabin fever?

First our longer walks were about 15 minutes, then they became 20 minutes. Now they range between 30 minutes into an hour, depending on whether I have an appointment or something else planned for the remainder of the evening.

It's only been about two weeks or so of these extended afternoon walks. I've been spotting some signs of the nature that surrounds us, that survives the bitter cold, ice and snow. Alas, with nature come some very, very gruesome sights sometimes. I've come across a number of "leftovers" as I like to call them, or better known as wildlife carcasses and parts.

There is a body of water in the wild field behind our community, and whenever rain and snowmelt is in abundance, it fills up to become noticeable. I must assume the wildlife in the area congregates around there during human "off" hours, or nighttime, and the consequent eating and such take place at those times.

Just as in a TV documentary from my childhood, the different animals must be going about their natural cycles. With there being a road not far off, I imagine that much of the evidence of carcasses can be attributed to that, and then wildlife finding a free smorgasbord.

Benny has been exceptionally obedient and has done exactly as I tell him, whenever we encounter any such "crime scene." I pull his leash taut and short, and don't let him touch his nose to the ground. He waits patiently until I stop perusing the scene and/or taking pictures, and then gladly proceeds on his walk with me. He's an angel and I'm always so proud of him.

I'm not a sick person that enjoys looking at dead things, but I am fascinated by the wilderness around us, which abounds, and which is cordoned off by busy roads, suburbs, and semi-industrial landscapes and parking lots. It's fascinating. There's an entire universe just outside your front or back door.

Being able to hike around freely and even making some of these gruesome discoveries, brings a whole new dimension to my existence and learning opportunities. My lifelong love of forensics, anthropology, geology, zoology, and my new-found love of hiking--of course!--all get some healthy exercise along with my legs and lungs. And Benny LOVES the walks, he usually takes a nap on the bed next to me when we come back.

I'm sure many other hikers in many other types of environments (deserts, lakes, riverbeds, jungles, forests, etc.), also find carcasses, bones, and other--perhaps a little shocking or even unsavory--discoveries on their way out and about. I believe these are just part of the scenery and bring to us lessons and discoveries about what surrounds us and what's inside us. Valuable discoveries. We're the guests and we get to witness Nature's amazing feats.

After all, Nature may be cruel, but she's like clockwork too. And just like clockwork, Spring is turning its head slowly but surely. I can't wait until the weather warms up all the way UP UP UP, and Benny and I can take hikes that take us further and longer. Out to do our wacky and wild wildlife exploring.

Check out my Flickr Hikes album slideshow, below.