By Mark S. McDonald
Yellowstone and Banf are glorious places to visit but, if you’re alert, you don’t need a travel agent or a private plane to commune with nature. The Good Mother is at work right under your very nose.
Even here in Midland County, Texas, on the edge of the great Chihuahua Desert, in mid-summer, the parched land offers living examples. Here are but a few:
* Bird of paradise has graced the front drive of Midland’s Sibley Nature Center with an explosion of orange. Mildly fragrant, wildly colorful, it serves as a natural touchstone for butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. Consider it a greeting card from above.
* For local bird-watchers, summer can be something of an off-season. Not so for hummingbirds. In the shade, hang a hummer feeder full of sugar water. Be patient. Before too many days past, you will attract the little buzzbirds. Then, you too will wonder how these tiny creatures can migrate vast distances on such short wings. If only our federal government were so efficient.
* Plants, too, can deliver an occasional surprise. The wisteria vine growing next to an old wooden rail trellis proves quite the opportunist, wrapping an exploratory stem around the dog leash hanging from the crossbar. Flash: The leash was used to walk Layla, the family Lab, only the morning before. In 18 hours, the plant somehow made two loops around the leash — and was going for a third.
Nature is right here, right now, and she is everywhere, whether it rains 10 inches a year, or 70. When you search for how plants, animals and people fit together in this grand matrix, you will find your own personal sense of peace.
More than that, you will be home.
A member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association, the Texas Authors Association and past president of the Texas Outdoor Writers Association, the author managed to escape starvation in the newsrooms of five major dailies. He is working on his sixth book.