OUTDOOR CORNER: The circle of life can be found everywhere

Lyle Johnson
A wary hawk is anxiously awaiting his turn in the “circle of life” in a willow tree in the marsh.

I was in Texas this last weekend to enjoy the birth of my third grandchild, Enoch Micah Woest. (Pronounced west) It’s always a great joy to celebrate new life and everything went really well. Momma Gabrielle, dad Brandon and baby are doing great.

They live in the Woodlands, a “smart” subdivision that has all the amenities inside the development so one wouldn’t really have to leave its boundaries to find anything you’d need. The unique thing about this place is the buffer of “woods” that line the main streets so you can’t really see any of the businesses, schools, churches and other buildings as you drive by.

Between trips to the hospital to Kingwood and back to the house, the only outdoor activity I was able to take part in was an early morning jog around the subdivision they live in.

On the second morning, I began to notice something that looked a little like earthworms crawling on the street. I slowed down to take a look and sure enough that’s what it was. I don’t know what was making them leave the comfort of all those beautiful lawns that were covered with grass and moist dirt underneath, but they were.

As I went on there were more and more. Being the avid fisherman I am, my first thoughts were, “Bait”! Man, if I would have brought a zip lock bag along I could have gotten enough worms to catch a really good mess of bream in all those ponds around the neighborhoods.

As I came to my senses and realized there would be no time for fishing on this trip, my thoughts returned to the worms and their journey.

“Where are they going?” was my next thought. They left the comfort of their homes and headed out in what was surely like a desert to them.

Then pretty soon a bird took advantage of the situation and became “the early bird that got the worm” and feasted on an easy breakfast. That scenario repeated itself a time or two as my journey continued.

Crossing this “desert” would turn out to be certain death for all these worms. They would make it out a couple of feet and get covered with gritty dust making it impossible to crawl. The worms would sort of dry out and eventually expire.

In this state they would become easy pickings for another group of insects that we are very familiar; ants! These hard working and very opportunistic creatures were quick to take advantage of the situation and had breakfast as well.

Most of nature’s creatures are very opportunistic and adapt really well to their surroundings. Even as urban development intrudes upon their habitat they still have the instinct to survive.

All the lawns I ran past had sprinkler systems installed and most of them were operating because they were in the middle of a really dry spell in their weather. All this watering caused water to pool in the road and the squirrels took advantage of the newly formed “ponds” to get their morning drink.

Squirrels are pretty normal in subdivisions but because of the amount of wooded areas, rabbits are a normal sight as well and I saw them both mornings as well eating some tender grass along the roadside. Heck, there are enough woods that Brandon saw a 10 point buck not far from their house.

With sunrise getting earlier each morning, my trip to work includes the dawning of the day. Nature is stirring around, getting ready for the day’s tasks which mean spending most of the time finding something to eat.

The crows that roost near Garyville have learned where meals can be found relatively easy. Their early morning route is flying the same Airline hwy that I’m travelling. Being the scavengers that they are, road kill is what they are looking for and they find plenty to take part in.

I began to feel a little sorry for the worms because of the fate they were suffering. The thought of stopping and putting them back on the grass crossed my mind a time or two but such is nature.

Nature produces enough worms for most of them to end up food for another group of earth’s inhabitants. The animals that eat the worms might well end up as food for a larger group of animals. At the right time of the year birds, squirrels and rabbits could end up at my kitchen table. So I just let them be and let nature take its course. Such is the circle of life. HaKuna Matata!

Remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. So until next time, have fun in the outdoors, no matter where you might find it; be safe and may God truly bless you.