I love to observe nature as it unfolds around me, and I’ve moved from a subtropical climate to a temperate one, so a lot has changed. I don’t even recognize many of the bird calls here, and I’m sure encountering plant life that I’ve never seen before. It some ways Washington reminds me a lot of the Connecticut of my childhood, but in other ways it’s kind of like being on another planet. How exciting!
One of the first things I did upon moving to Seattle was to log on to Amazon.com and purchase a copy of the National Audubon Society’s Field Guide to the Pacific Northwest. If they publish a guide to your region, I highly recommend that you get one. This book is like nature’s bible, and it’s really helping me get used to this area.
Audubon Guides are very comprehensive. They describe the area’s topography and geology, fossils, habitats, weather, and even what you can expect to see in the night sky in any given season. (I was distressed to discover that I’ll only be able to see Orion well in the winter. That was the favorite constellation of my late boyfriend, and it always makes me feel connected to him.)
These guides also give you detailed images and descriptions of the local flora and fauna. They even give you a picture of the various animal tracks. It’s amazing the variety of squirrels, rabbits, birds, and beetles that live here that I didn’t even know existed. (I look forward to meeting a hoary marmot so I can commiserate with him about his name.) There’s also a detailed section about the parks and preserves in the region, and I hope to explore every single one of them.
It’s a bit of a culture shock being a bridgetender in a different part of the country. In Florida I used to sit at work and gaze at alligators, nutria, dolphins, manatee and ospreys. Now I see peregrine falcons, harbor seals, and salmon. It’s a different world. But if it means I never have to see another scorpion, water moccasin or two inch cockroach (they actually have a display of them here at the local zoo! Shudder…) I’ll be happy as a pacific littleneck clam, as described on page 177 of my guidebook.
[Image credit: wikipedia.org]