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MARTHA SEZ: Admire the fortitude of our wild animals

June 29, 2017
By MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

What is so rare as a day in June?

Really, it doesn't get any better than this, which is a good thing to remember when we are on the verge of complaining about the rain or the heat or the humidity or whatever. Now, if ever, come perfect days, according to the poet James Russell Lowell. There is simply no use finding fault with June in the Adirondacks; it just makes us look finicky and impossible to please.

A friend of mine is now on a Caribbean cruise, which is unusual this time of year, but probably less expensive than it would be during the winter months. Her partner is able to track her cruise ship on his computer, but they can't communicate except when the ship docks. She might just as well seal a note in a bottle and throw it overboard.

A cousin of mine was in love with a sailor who used to write her letters and set them adrift in bottles. It was a romantic gesture, and seemed even more so after he was lost at sea.

I imagine wild animals must be glad when spring comes. You can see that the birds get giddy in spring, zooming around and singing, or vocalizing, as the scientists would have it. What about the coyotes, bobcats, bear and deer? Even if they do their frolicking and cavorting off where we can't see them, I am sure they are celebrating. They must feel so relieved that they're not standing under a pine tree in the freezing drizzle or crouched under a rock somewhere.

Mice are known for sneaking into people's houses in the fall for warmth and food, and I often wonder why other animals don't do the same. Humans build houses in the forests and meadows because we are equipped to do so, thanks to our useful opposable thumbs and mastery of tool use. Some of us also understand things like carpentry and masonry and plumbing and how to harness electricity, which is a very good thing for the rest of us. You would think that other animals would figure out how to profit from our skills, that this wouldn't be limited to mice.

Do you ever come home from work on a cold, dark winter afternoon, half expecting to find a herd of deer sheltering in your garage? Have you ever heard from a local woman that she found a family bears emerging from hibernation in one of the bedrooms of a summer house she was opening? Are coyotes or porcupines sleeping around your wood stove when you come downstairs in the morning?

Wild animals are persevering and long-suffering to a fault, enduring all manner of hardship and privation simply to stay alive and rear their young. Outside of the Pilgrim forefathers, you would be hard pressed to find human beings who exhibit such fortitude. Domesticated animals, especially pets, learn laziness and comfort seeking from their human companions.

There are birds who survive our harsh Adirondack winters when other birds have gone south. I don't understand how they manage it.

On the other hand, migration is no picnic either. While we are inside the house balking at taking the dog for a walk, Canada geese as well as other birds and even butterflies are up there in the sky flying thousands of miles.

While my friend is cruising along on her ship, perhaps writing notes and pushing them into empty champagne bottles, which are no doubt plentiful on board, rolling around underfoot as likely as not, gray whales are tirelessly engaged in their endless migrations all the way from their nurseries in Mexico to their feeding grounds in the Arctic. Gray whales are said to travel 10,000 miles or more every year. Why? Why do they do it?

The lives of wild animals are very hard. So before we vocalize any more about how it is too cool or too hot or how the humidity is ruining our hair, remember that we are in one of the most beautiful places on earth, and that now, if ever, come perfect days.

Oh yes, I was telling you about my cousin who was in love with a sailor. Well, years later, she married a carpenter, and one day she was walking along the beach, not thinking about the sailor at all, when she saw a bottle wash up on the sand, and guess what? A little minnow was inside.

Have a good week.



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