Saturday, August 25, 2012

Living in the Gaze

"Nature, even when she is scant and thin outwardly, satisfies us still by the assurance of a certain generosity at the roots...bareness does not suggest poverty."
- Henry David Thoreau

A Brown Mantis Perching
Seeming like nothing more than a shabby twig, this brown praying mantis perched yesterday evening on the spent bloom of a butterfly bush in the garden.  She (or perhaps he) was waiting patiently, it appears, for the first passing monarch or swallowtail to drift into her ready claws.  What particularly struck me as I maneuvered around the mantis's  roost to photograph her was her gaze: It followed my every move.  Peering into the macro lens's viewfinder, the eyes of the mantis, two infinitesimal pinpricks in two wooden looking knobs were fixed directly on me.  The hair on the back of my neck stood up.  Imagine the menagerie of all those eyes--of crows, robins, flickers, squirrels, wasps, moths, stink bugs, mantises, hovering flies and all the rest--that fix upon one every time one wanders about in one's backyard.  And if not eyes, then noses and all the other sensory organs that perceive the comings and goings of the human being sharing these environs.

In Australia recently I was privileged to meet Simon Dower, a naturalist and animal trainer working at the Living Desert Park in Alice Springs.  He remarked that animals often notice our habits far more carefully than we do: exactly where we move, when we show up, how we conduct ourselves.  It is as if we humans are the blind ones stumbling about in a world bristling with perceptions of our passing.  Nature is not nearly so thin and scant, when one understands how many creatures remark upon our presence in it.

Brown Mantis Gazing

No comments:

Post a Comment