Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Matter of Life and Death

Even in death this young Northern Flicker is still exquisite.

Our culture has little patience for the dying. In the United States the message is clear: you’re either dead or alive, otherwise get out of the way. There is no in between. But, that’s not reality. Transitions are a natural part of life – from infancy and childhood to adolescence, young adulthood to parenthood and so on. The culmination of these transitions is what we call the life experience. Then, there is the life force itself, which in some can be very strong. These are the individuals we call vibrant, vivacious, bubbly, supernatural and persistent. Their life force is not easily extinguished, nor should it be.

Death is a NATURAL process. My affinity for the sciences is what led me to “study” the natural world. Even in death the young Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus), shown above, is exquisite. Struck by a passing car, he died just as he was becoming independent. Now, his story will never be told.

Few people realize how many young and inexperienced creatures are “going to school” in spring. Their most important task is to learn to fend for themselves. They need all the help we can give them. In wooded and thickly settled areas, have a care. Drive carefully. Be observant. Slow down. For these new beings it is a matter of life and death.

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