Nature has way of putting life in perspective

By Clyde Davis: Columnist

I often write from an outdoor lover’s perspective, and conservation issues often emerge to the forefront, or form a secondary theme.

So it is with this week, as fishing season is upon us and many families plan camping, hiking or even backpacking trips for the approaching months. Even those who have no wish to completely immerse themselves in the natural world will probably spend more time outdoors than they might otherwise this time of year.

The question of the week is: Why? Why ought we to do this, when we as a society have worked so hard to shield ourselves from the elements? For those who love all seasons, the answer is obvious, but some ways to help others understand came to me over the past several weeks, as I have been helping my grandson learn about fishing.

First, we have the new awakenings about the world in which we live — as created, not cyber formed. A child benefits, or will benefit, from realizing that, in the circle of life, the bass eats the minnow, the human or the walleye eats the bass, and so on. Eventually, the catfish eats everything that is left. It is not cruel, it is the natural progression.

We remember what it is like to be a part of nature, when we immerse ourselves in it — an immersion our ancestors took for granted, not so many generations ago. This includes not only the joyful or bucolic pieces, but the realities as well.

During pheasant season of 2006, I pulled a calf muscle. Since, as many of you know, pheasant season is only a few days long, I kept hunting the weekend — there was no time to spare. I experienced, then, what it is like to be a wounded predator — and the thought occurred to me, what if I were a panther, or a fox? What if getting a pheasant was not a luxury, but a necessity? The handicap could prove fatal, not inconvenient.

All of this might serve to remind us of our place in the order of life, a place which we deny or attempt to hide from when we insulate ourselves from the woods, the fields, and swimming in water untouched by chlorine or purifiers.

I had the joy of taking my grandson to the Albuquerque Museum of Natural History earlier this week. At the age of 7, he can only minimally grasp the mysterious force that is life. Nonetheless, I believe that beginning to lead him on an understanding of this journey is going to benefit him, both now and later.

So we study dinosaurs, we discuss the idea of fishing, we try to draw conclusions to the level that is possible for an early elementary child. For my perspective, an encounter with illness six years ago, that left me weakened for about a year, brought home to me the importance of enjoying the outdoor world, an enjoyment often taken for granted until it is temporarily denied.

I hope you will have the time to take the summer outdoors as a place to learn about your role in the mystery of creation.