Zoos, garden centers, pet stores, and flower shops…what do they have in common?
They’re all created by people, to capture the beauty of nature and make it useful and accessible to modern day man. And don’t we all love freshly cut flowers and furry little kittens?
But seeing exotic flowers and wild animals when you’re actually out in nature is a completely different story.
On a random hike, I might be walking along a trail, when out of the corner of my eye, I see something move. A gazelle. No, two. Their delicate horns pop up through the underbrush. Then, they notice me watching and skip away, graceful and beautiful as they run away at top speed. Where do they go? How do they survive?
These are questions I ask myself every time I encounter animal life on the trail. And that happens a lot. In Israel’s great outdoors, there are ibex, rock badgers, birds, crabs, foxes, deer, wolves, gazelle, wild boar and all sorts of other creatures. These animals aren’t neatly packaged: their existence takes place entirely outside of our own. We get to peek into one brief moment of their lives – and it always takes my breath away.
Out on a desert hike, where it seems like nothing should be able to survive, an ibex crosses my path. I stop. He stops. We stare at each other, neither one of us willing to make the first move. Of course, being human, I do. I get closer, closer, trying to simply encounter that wild animal in some way. And then he turns his head away. I stop. Then move closer again. And off he runs to hide in the rocks.
This is the dance that plays out when we meet animals on the trail. We have breakfast with the birds, tempting them to come closer with our muffin crumbs. Desert sand mice scurry away from the trail, even as we try very hard to be still and silent. When we see a wild boar, we’re the ones that scurry away: both we and the giant creatures take off in opposite directions.
These encounters in the wild enrich our life experience. In these animals, we see the symbiosis that the world was designed to support. We see beauty and grace that exists for their own sake. We see the struggles of daily existence, the search for food and water, the beautiful, messy thing that is life, even when reduced to the basics.
In a world outside of our own, we see furry animals alive and well, colorful flowers blowing in the wind, all put there to support the perfect harmony of life on earth.