Monday’s Musings: On appreciating nature

Monday’s Musings is a new weekly theme I’m working to establish here on the blog (along with Sustainable Saturday–so be looking for that). I have a hard time posting regularly, mainly due to the fact that my life is generally hectic and sometimes unpredictable, what with garden, apiary, household up-keep, child-rearing and homeschooling to tend to–along with my responsibilities as president to the Somerset Beekeepers and to the cooperative extension as a master gardener.  But I try to take it all in stride–it’s well known that farmers wear many hats, it comes with the job.

I’m a big advocate for practicing peaceful coexistence with the animals and plants around us.  I hear it all the time–so-and-so doesn’t like bees because they sting, or Joe-Shmoe hates wasps because they’re mean, Silly-Sally loathes snakes and would rather kill the creature than to go to the trouble of removing said snake from her presence.

However, it’s important to remember that every creature serves a purpose in it’s ecosystem and is a necessary ingredient for a healthy habitat.  Every animal, no matter how large or small, no matter how impressive or disgusting, is unique and fascinating in it’s own way.  Each creature on this planet deserves our respect at the very least.

For example, the bumblebee may sting to defend itself, but she is a compelling little creature who actually sits upon her brood nest to incubate the larvae.  How amazing is that!?

wasp

This wasp has caught a fly, which it will carry home to feed it’s larvae.

And the wasp may be overly aggressive, but did you know that they are a beneficial insect providing no one, but two services to gardeners?  Adult wasps drink the nectar of flowers to sustain themselves, then they hunt for small insects to feed their growing larvae.  So not only are they pollinating flowers, they are also helping to rid your garden of those unwanted guests.  Indeed last year I watched as a wasp carried a cabbage worm away from my broccoli plants!

Snakes will eat practically anything smaller than themselves, from mice and frogs, to lizards and even other snakes.  I appreciate the service they provide to the ecosystem.  Admittedly I’m not going to be the first person to chase down a snake when I see one, something about their long slithery length intimidates me.  However I admire their slender flexibility, their markings and colorings, the innate way that snakes seek out warm places to sun themselves–snakes intrigue me.

good garden bugsEven now, as a beekeeper and pollinator conservationist, spiders are one of my least favorite creatures (surpassed only by ticks and leaches!  I shudder just to think about them!).  It’s the length and number of legs, I think.  But I’ve learned to tolerate them, for the most part.  I allow a couple of spiders to live in the high corners of the house during the summer in exchange for the service they provide in eliminating wayward mosquitoes and flies.  I’ve learned to capture spiders with a glass and envelope to return them to the outdoors when necessary.  I appreciate spiders for the service they provide, for their sometimes beautiful colorings and markings–but I prefer they stay well away from me!

Keith and I preach peaceful coexistence to those around us wherever we go.  I often talk with people in surrounding communities about tolerating wildlife, and I know Keith does the same when he is at work at his off-farm job.  We’ve taught our own children to appreciate nature, to respect animals, that every creature is precious and important.  And that lesson translates to the planet itself–every rainstorm is integral.  Every rock is beautiful.  Every tree, every blade of grass–is all part of this wondrous planet we are fortunate to have found ourselves upon.

It’s important to remember these things, to actively practice tolerance for the creepy-crawlies even if they give you the heebee-jeebies.  We need to encourage our children to appreciate nature so that they will grow into adults who are conscientious of the world around them so that they can be good stewards of the Earth.  Foster connections with nature by getting outdoors, expose your family to the natural world, and practice peaceful co-existence and appreciation of nature.

Share your thoughts, comments or questions!