Saturday, July 27, 2013

Nature and City Livin' - a Nighttime Observation

I just cannot keep myself together. THIS week, since I got off-topic last week and talked about animals and weather, was going to be about wetlands. Then I got depressed because I spent my day off job searching, as my zoo job will be coming to an end in a couple short months. You know what I need? I need to go outside.

That's why I'm sitting on the "balcony" of the second floor overlooking the street - sure, it's not green space, and the sun has gone down, but in the distance I can see the last bit of sunset dimming in the horizon. Frogs, cicadas, and crickets are making a spectacular chorus, and my street has lots of trees on it - I can see the outline of the trunks and leaves in the dark. A bat just flew over my head, and there's a cool breeze courtesy of this very lovely weather we've been having recently in St. Louis. I can even see a few stars shining in the sky. Even in the middle of the city, I'm surrounded by those comforting sounds and smells and sensations of nature.

It's easy to forget that these urban areas are ecosystems all in their own. My roommate hates the squirrels that come into the yard and eat the garden, and he is irked by the carpenter bees that have made homes in his deck (and I promise, that pollinator post IS coming!). I'm tempted to put a bird feeder in the backyard, but then I'd just be adding to a local food chain -attracting cats and hawks and all sorts of things that would very much like to eat the buffet of song birds caught off guard.

Ironically, my neighbors, who probably are drinking wine on their balcony enjoying the night ambiance, are probably more than a little annoyed at the fact that I've come outside and am illuminating the space 20 feet away from them with the light from my lap-top and the incessant "tick-a-tap-tick" of my typing. Sorry, neighbors. I'm just enjoying the grandeur of our little urban paradise in my own way.

Quiet, introspective moments like these are one of my favorite things in life to experience. It's also a good time to remind myself that life is a balance of progress and natural order - that if I want to maintain these comfortable, small segments of time and experience them again, I need to bring that balance to my own life. Recycle, conserve, observe, enjoy the awe of the little things that make this so very urban and yet Midwest (and I say that in the most loving way possible) all at once. And I love that St. Louis seems dedicated to maintaining this balance, as well. Community gardens are not uncommon, at least in this neck of the city, and the Zoo and Botanical Gardens are two of the top attractions (as well as major players in conservation and education, of course). Many of the neighborhoods are old but look like they're straight out of 1903. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside - the history, the nature, the progress, even the work that still needs to be done -it all adds up to this beautiful evening that I'm writing about now.

So what if the 757 flying overhead on its way to Lambert Airport harmonizes with the choir of frogs? Of course it isn't a perfect balance yet, but in this moment, on my balcony, it's pretty close.

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