Next year, my daughter will enroll in a year long tracking program. I think that I’m as excited as she is. I’m a naturalist by profession and inclination, and I want my daughter to grow up well-connected to the natural world.
But really, you don’t need to take a course in tracking to cultivate an understanding of the natural world. Tracking is all about observation. To learn how nature works, you need to watch it.
Last weekend we went for a bike ride in a local nature reserve. It’s a reserve that’s connected to the much larger wilderness that lies just beyond our back door. We live on the edge of a city, and behind us are the mountains. These mountains are full of bears, deer, cougars, and coyotes, as well as many much smaller animals.
As we began to round the corner to go the last small part of this bike trail, we saw a deer. Those of you who live in more rural locations may laugh, but to us suburban folks who don’t see deer daily, this is a bit of an event. We stood and watched the deer and its friend for about 20 minutes.
Silent observation encourages animals to feel comfortable around you. One way to do this consistently is by creating a sit spot. The concept of a sit spot is one that has been around for a long time. A sit spot is a place you go to and sit. You sit quietly and you observe your surroundings. Animals might walk by. Birds might sing or fly above you. Over time as you sit in the same spot week after week, you’ll notice seasonal changes as well. Seeds sprout, and so do mushrooms. Leaves fall. After a while you will get to know that spot very well, and you will get to know the animals in the area around you.Try sitting quietly and see what happens.
Image Credit: Stock Exchange