I’ve had a great time this morning, going back through photo submissions looking for the best shots of North Country wildlife. Once I got the collection done, I couldn’t move on to my next task, but kept looking through the slideshow over and over.
There’s something deeply fascinating about our fellow creatures. They have a directness and grace that comes hard to amped-up apes like us. When we encounter them, it’s hard to look away. We’re wired that way by ten thousand generations in the wild, but also–the wild ones are more beautiful and strange than the limited manmade indoor world of everyday.
I would like to say we love them for themselves alone, but not so, I think. Instead, we project ourselves into the mirror of them. In Joe Woody’s photo of a Merganser family on Lake Ozonia, I see my red-headed one-time neighbor, Mrs. Larsen, followed by her carrot-topped sons. Larry Masters photo of an ermine popping up from a drift shows the serious hyper-vigilance of any boy (me) in a snowball fight.
And while it’s harder, perhaps, to identify directly with birds, bugs, reptiles and such, we project onto them archetypal human qualities, totems still to modern day shamans. There’s the confident power of Carl Raden’s landing osprey, the sloth of Sandy Hildreth’s napping turtle, the pure freedom of Rose Turner’s snow geese, the lip-licking bloodlust of Howard Linke’s marten.
If there were only humans in all the world, we’d have no idea of who we are.