Friday, January 9, 2009


This is a great meme that I got from Doug at Gossamer Tapestry and that he, in turn, got from Roy at The Fenland Walker. When we are stuck inside longing to be out enjoying nature without risking hypothermia this has to be the next best thing - list your five greatest joys in nature.

1. The African Bush

This will always be where my spirit lies. Once having lived there it so utterly permeates ones soul that there is never anything that can come close to it. (I guess I should never say never, but certainly, so far!) The sense of how small and insignificant you are in the overall scheme of things is certainly sobering and yet at the same time it is a good lesson to learn. But above and beyond that, the endless new sights, the smells (I never was more aware of my sense of smell than when I lived in the bush, it could tell you so much), the wonderful sounds, both day and night and, of course, the jaw-droppingly spectacular and varied wildlife, from the tiniest termite to the majestic elephant and everything in between. I loved the constantly changing landscape as the hot season progressed and then the amazing smell of petrichor when the rains finally came. The onset of the rainy season bought about an almost overnight transformation as animals seemed to rejoice and plants flourished and blossomed almost instantly. I felt so alive and part of the natural world living in this amazing habitat.


Living in Africa it was impossible not to become captivated by the spectacular array of birds. In my immediate area there were over four hundred species recorded. When the safari season got a little quieter, some of us used to have a group called the One Hundred Club. We would go out and see how long it would take us to see one hundred different species of birds! It was usually somewhere between two and three hours and sometimes considerably less. We would all get very grumpy if we went over three hours! As the years went by it became, unofficially, my area of expertise and so whenever keen ornithologists came to stay at our camp, I would usually be the guide to take them out. It is a wonderful pastime and incredibly addicitve. One of the things I like most about it is that you never stop learning. Imagine how strange it was for me when I moved to America, having never even visited here before, and I didn't know a single bird species! I can remember being incredibly excited when I saw my first American Robin in the park! My husband (to be) looked at me as if I was slightly insane and said, rather disparigingly, 'it's a Robin!' My one regret is, having lived on three different continents and being lucky enough to travel to some amazing places that I have never been organised enough to keep a 'life list' of all the birds I have seen. I know, it sounds geeky but is something birders do :)

3. Herpetology.

This particular joy is my most recent. I can remember as a child being drawn to tortoises and snakes, but nothing more than that. In Africa most herps were admired from a safe distance! Although I did own a couple of beautiful Leopard Tortoises but unfortunately someone sold them to the village headman to eat one time when I was away! When I came to America my first, and current job involved working predominantly with herps and I have to say, yes, I am completely hooked. The picture above is of Fang, one of the snakes in my care. He is an albino California King Snake and he feels like the smoothest, coolest piece of mobile alabaster when I hold him!

4. The Sea and the things that life in it and on it.

I grew up on the coast in Southwest England so a close proximity to the sea is something I find very soothing. Ironically, water is not an element that I am at all comfortable being in or on, although I did make myself go snorkeling every day on a recent trip to the Galapagos and I have to say, I loved it. I suspect though that it was because there was such an endless parade of different creatures for me to watch which kept my mind off the fact that I was bobbing about in the middle of the ocean! I do love the smell and the sound of the sea and one of my great pleasures in life is walking on the beach and looking to see what the tide has left behind.

5. The Joy is in the Details.

This has actually been a realy hard exercise for me because, to be honest, my joy is nature in all its amazing forms. But there is something exciting about seeing something small, something you may have walked past a dozen times and not noticed.

Maybe there is something you had sort of seen and thought was a just a leaf or a stick but when you have looked properly you have seen something quite different, like a sea slug.

Or equally enjoyable is noticing the every day things with a fresh eye, like rain drops on a branch

A tiny lizard on a fence post

Or a beautiful big bumble bee collecting pollen in the sunshine

After all, the greatest joy in nature, is nature itself.

There are five people I would like to tag to do this meme:
Michelle at Rambling Woods
Kathie at Sycamore Canyon
Linda at The 7msn Ranch
JK at The Rough String Ranch
Arija at Garden Delights

Photo Credits -
1. Robin Pope Safaris
2. CJT
3. Amanda Micek
4. Dominick V
5. CJT


the7msn said...

Thanks for the tag, Celeste. This should be fun, though it will be hard to narrow it down to five!

Arija said...

the normal tags I generally steer clear of. This however, will be a joy to write. It is somewhat like a confessional, laying bare the things dearest to one's heart so I thamk you for choosing me. I see I am in excellent company.
I had to smile at your aversion of bing in or on the sea yet loving to be by it. That Is what I meant by confessional, being honest with oneself.

Celeste said...

the7msn - That was exactly the problem I had too!

Arija - I shall look forward to reading your confessional!