Outdoor Encounters

By Nathan Bolls on January 4, 2018

Let’s hope that most wild organisms survived the human-based wonder and chaos of December. What must they have thought when all manner of lighted globes and twinkling lights were strung here and there, when conifers became technicolor. Surely the creatures noticed that large groups of humans gathered in certain buildings, and large colorful windows glowed from lights within. Surely they noticed that instead of calling back and forth to each other, those inside made various strung-out group sounds. And surely the creatures lacked any sense of the warmth and hope that filled the minds and hearts of humans gathered within. Surely the wild ones had to adjust while trying to live in a habitat much brighter than usual? 

What must they have thought during that one particular night when it was more dicey than usual to cross one of those hard-surfaced trails that humans seem to prefer, when having to deal with an increased number of drivers whose eyes and reflexes were dimmed by alcohol. That time was even more dangerous than the five-times-each-week when after-work humans rat race toward home, gym, bar, or wherever.

And, during that one particular night, in the middle of that night—always the same night, always the same time—THAT song rolls out across prairie hills and valleys from the dens of assembled humans. THAT song always is accompanied by much glass clinking, by what seems to be a kind of clumsy nose rubbing, and sometimes with noisy fireworks.

The rollicking party noises, and later, noises from racing and colliding cars, served both to awaken animals trying to rest and to frighten prey away from hungry night hunters.  Although relatively few birds hunt or feed in the dark, many mammals are active at night. 

Let’s hope that wise wild mothers warned their young that the absolute worst time to be caught crossing one of those hard-surfaced trails is after the madness dies down, the den doors open, and cars begin to weave, wobble, and careen from parking lots. 

Although strong arguments have been put forth that many animals know the sense of joy, I doubt that many, if any, grasp the concept of “collective celebration.” But perhaps they did wonder what those nights were all about. After all, for most living organisms, every tomorrow is just another day in the never-ending search for adequate food, water, and shelter—and just another time for vigilance against becoming someone’s next meal. Who has time to party?