Tuesday, July 08, 2008

not just another flower

This is a Shenandoah National Park flower!!!

Walker Percy discusses how all of us feel more alive, more full of being, when we come into contact with famous folks. Somehow the extra being that we collectively confer to their personas transfers to us through osmosis when we see them up close and personal. I experience a loose parallel with this dynamic in the way I feel a keener intensity and sense of wonder and meaning when I encounter wildlife inside of national parks.

I live in an area that's virtually impossible to play a game of frisbee without hitting seven or eight deer. Actually it's a fairly wildlife-intensive area. Within a few miles of my home I've seen a bobcat, racoons, skunks, snakes aplenty, and coyotes. (As well as a mutant frog in the little creek behind my house the size of a football helmet). As exciting as these sightings are, they don't generate the excitement I feel when I encounter wildlife in a NATIONAL PARK!!

"SHHHH!! Kids, look!! A deer!!!"

"Dad, we see deer every single day....Um....what's the big deal?"

"What are you talking about?!! This is a DEER!! A wild deer! In a NATIONAL PARK!! Don't you see it? Look, a deer!"

"Okay, daddy."

I suppose I feel the way I do because I think of wildlife that live in my area as semi-domestic (excepting the giant frog, which could never be caught not to say domesticated). National Parks, however, are wild. Wild wild. Entering a national park is no different than journeying along with Lewis and Clark as they battle their way through virgin territories. One must go into a National Park with the sobering knowledge that the chances of leaving it alive, or at least without an arm eaten by a grizzly bear, are slim at best. (The fact that I've survived vists to about twenty national parks essentially makes me the equivalent of an adult male Baby Jessica.) Therefore to encounter a deer in a National Park gives me insight into what it must have felt for the first European to have stumbled upon the Grand Canyon--an awe-inspiring sight for the brave and manly adventurer.

A brave and manly middle-aged adventurer who needs to make frequent pit stops at the souvenir shops.

No comments: