Friday, April 24, 2009

My AHA! Moment

A co-worker once quipped  I was smarter than I pretended to be.

Although his sarcasm is legend, the truth kernel is, too. On many levels, my ignorance amazes me. And at times, charms me. Like today.

Jacob (a standard poodle who pretends to be a bloodhound) and I are geocaching. (Well, I'm the treasure hunter, following my GPS, while Jacob  just follows his nose.)

As we near the intended site (historic ruins called the Horton House on Jekyll Island), I see a scrawny raccoon frozen in mid-step about 250 feet ahead of us at the side of the road. Jacob stares right at him, but shows no hunterly response. No arched ears, no lowered head, no raised foot to point (yes, Jacob pretends to be a pointer, too). Does he NOT see this creature?

The raccoon, confident he can move along and not retreat, scoots across the road and into the brush that leads to a great salt marsh, where I'm sure his dinner unknowingly awaits.

We move on our way, too. Suddenly Jacob GOES NUTS! He runs in circles  with his nose to the ground, and he whines/sniffs, sounding like a hyperventilating drama king. I get it, Jacob! We're standing on the very spot the raccoon occupied seconds earlier. Hunter Jacob redeems himself.

I calm him down. But it takes a while because he's so excited.

Now, here's my moment. Here's when I notice something that shows for a smart little cookie, I can be so dumb.

I see a path from the spot I am standing on (where the raccoon was seconds ago) back into the woods. Then, across the street, I see the ]continuation of that path, on toward the marsh. And I ponder it. I look back and forth. It's a well worn path.

And I get it (you probably already know it): The raccoon's wanderings are not random. This is the same route he takes daily. Maybe even at the same time daily. Habitually. Epiphany: Is this the genesis of CREATURE OF HABIT? (How charming, if it's so.)

This well worn path in front of me provides safe passage for this scrawny little racoon. Because it's familiar. He knows what to expect. So when we amble into his world, he recognizes potential danger immediately. And freezes to assess it. When he determines no threat exists, he scurries on his way, on his well worn path, on proven grounds. Aha!

All my life, I just assumed wild animals dart or meander about covertly, constantly avoiding potential danger. And, because danger lurks predictably everywhere, the animals skitter here and skitter there, trying to stay out of harm's way. They stay nowhere long enough to carve a path.

I just figured all those paths I crossed in the woods growing up were made by other kids growing up ahead of me. Oh my word. I walked with wild things. And didn't know it.

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