Sense of wonder: a Christmas ramble

The shapes of water: ice fins under a boulder, New Hampshire

The shapes of water: ice fins under a boulder, New Hampshire

If you can hang on to your child-like sense of wonder about nature, every day is like Christmas. There are always great new things waiting to be unwrapped and discovered. I study flies, but I see little mysteries everywhere when I go out in the world. A world in which I only looked for my own study organisms would be a sterile world indeed.

Above the undercast, Maine

Above the undercast, the mountains of Maine

It sometimes takes me a long time to get somewhere, even when I have a clear destination in mind. I get distracted. By beetles, by spring wildflowers, by tiny streams, by strange rocks, by slime molds, by sapsucker holes in a log, by ice crystals in the mud, by dying leaves in the fall, by salamanders, by birds, by new trees I’ve never seen, by the smells of the desert. I don’t see that as a weakness, only as an adjustment to a mostly meaningless timetable.

In 2013, I resolve to learn more about ants. No particular reason other than the fact that ants are awesome. In 2013, I also resolve to interact more with fungi. We don’t appreciate the diversity of fungi enough. In 2013 I’ll go north again. The north has a hold on me. No sense fighting it. Plus it will give me the chance to learn more about tundra plants. You can never know too much about tundra plants. They’re tough and beautiful little survivors.

Sunlight through trunk fungus, New Hampshire

Sunlight through trunk fungus, New Hampshire

Life, water, sky, Banks Island, Arctic Ocean

Life, water, sky, Banks Island, Arctic Ocean

I don’t really need Christmas traditions. I don’t really need egg nog or turkey. I don’t really need Christmas movies or Boxing Day sales or Christmas carols.

I need nature. I need to keep my sense of wonder fired up. I need to be child-like when I can grab the chance. I need to go outside and play.

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About terry wheeler

professor, museum director, entomologist, ecologist, naturalist
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