After a few hours at the office, I drove home and then walked to our little Glendover Park. I headed over to the small pond, and walked around it over and over, trying to see as many little things as I could see. Green algae lined the northern shore of the little pond, and I could see lots of tiny mosquito fish. Mosquito fish is the little native livebearer, now spread all over the world in the mistaken belief that it would out-eat the slacker local fish when it came to mosquito control. I have soft spot for this tiny fish, which lived in profusion in the huge drainage ditch behind our home in my south Arkansas boyhood, and which we stalked with tiny 2 x 3 inch aquarium nets taped onto broomsticks. We rarely caught any,and we always threw them back, but the intensity of the sport far outweighed tarpon fishing. Then I saw a sagebrush butterfly, a small orange guy with ornate patterns on his wings, who landed on a mass of algae as if it were a tropical island.
I saw a cowbird, that odd, exotic bird whose females lay their eggs in the nests of other birds. The eggs hatch early, and the cowbird young are 'raised' by the reluctant adoptive mother. By the little concrete spillway, a killdeer skittered on his legs like an ocean bird. Killdeers are plover, and they look as though they should be at the seashore, skittering about the sand. Instead, they live in suburbs, and love open grassy fields like little pocket parks in Texas provide. They nest on the ground,and the species is famous for having the parents pretend to have a broken wing to try to lure predators away from nests. I saw squirrels under the nearby little stand of trees. I saw a few barn swallows dive bombing the small pond for insects. A male purple martin seemed disturbed by my presence, while the female purple martin looked on.
Mockingbirds kept flitting among the little sapling trees along the pond shore. Mockingbirds are interesting, because they are natural mimics. They will imitate whatever other birds are handy. I have heard a mockingbird imitate a cat's meow.
As I wandered the small shoreline, circling it over and over, I scanned the nearby open fields. A sulphur butterfly slowly flew about ten yards away.
I saw a sort of wasp I'd never noticed before, an orange body and orange wings.
Nothing I saw on my walk was particularly unusual or rare for north Texas. All the birds were "backyard birds". None of the butterfiles and beetles and squirrels and mosquito fish were exotics. I thought about how when we are kids, we don't have cars to go to the great hiking trail or to see the unique flora and fauna. We learn to love the susan flowers and monarch butterflies and grackle birds of our own little neighborhood.
I am convinced that when we convert nature into mere exotic tourism, we lose something. I will still go hiking elsewhere and the like, and still take vacations to "scenic spots". I get bored of people who have "revelations" that basically amount to judging other people for not following their own "new found" insight. But on this Sunday,
grant me grace to see what is about me to be seen.
We had dinner with my brother and his wife last night. My sister in law, who was by training an engineer, just completed a master's in speech and language pathology. She wanted to switch fields to a more "helping" profession. The news was doubly good--she got a job offer the day before her graduation. We went to Texas de Brazil, a curious place where there is no menu, only a huge salad bar and endless steak. One is given a little
chip, green on one side, red on the other. Whenever one's chip is set green side up, waiters with skewers of various fresh cooked meats come to offer samples. The food was exquisite. I managed to stay within a short park hike of moderation amid the bounty. Then we headed back to my brother's house, and talked endlessly. When I began to do something I rarely will do, my narrative of "interesting cross examinations I have done" (subtitle: "he said THAT, and the document said THIS", so I rammed it down his throat") my wife wisely signalled it was time for us to leave.