Co-exist

Driving into a National Park parking lot, I was immediately disturbed by what I saw. Vultures on cars, several cars, with the vultures tearing at the rubber seals on the roof of the cars. Definitely out of the ordinary behavior, at least in my experience. I felt helpless, not knowing what to do or how to stop the behavior. Several other people arrived and also looked with concern and horror as the birds went from car to car, then selecting one car that as a group they did their best to try and tear apart.

The scene was disturbing because of the aggressive and seemingly non-productive behavior of the scavenger birds. I couldn’t imagine any benefit for the birds. Here I was, in the Everglades, and the scene before me was completely unnatural and I couldn’t think of any way to stop the birds’ destruction act. I wasn’t even sure if it was safe to leave the car. Helpless and disturbed with a mix of concern for the safe co-existence of humans and nature, as if humans were not part of nature. At times like this, I often struggle to find solutions. I become lost in the chaos. I took a chance and went on with my plan to walk a short trail with the purpose of seeing wildlife.

Walking on the boardwalk through the wetlands I was treated to more pristine experiences with wildlife. A heron catching and eating a fish. I was mesmerized by a purple gallinule hopping on lily leaves. Anhingas spreading their wings to dry. Alligators sunning themselves. Trees covered with bromeliads. Every inch of the walkway was rich with life. The wildlife went on doing what they do, eat fish, stay warm and wait for feeding opportunities, or flowering. It’s not as though the animals were unaware of my presence, they simply didn’t change their behavior. For me, witnessing their lives, noticing the curve of the heron’s feathers, the flowers blooming in January, the gar staying in the shadows away from the heron, are privileges. I am aware I am an intruder and do my best to keep a respectful distance.

As I neared the end of the trail, my concern about leaving the car returned. I walked to the bathroom and noticed a sign. Surprised by the solution, and the resource, I felt foolish about feeling helpless. How often will I need to be reminded that I am not alone? Once more, I didn’t look closely enough, have enough awareness, to search for a solution to co-exist.

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