When I read a Los Angeles Times article about the recent increase in the number of wild animals seen roaming in Yosemite National Park and the peacefulness experienced in the park by the 100 to 200 employees living there, it reminded me of the wild nature of all of Alta California just 200 years ago. With few people in the park, the territorial songs of birds, grunts of bears, growls of mountain lions, and howls of coyotes blend with the rush of the waterfalls and the wind in the treetops in Yosemite as it once did in the 1800s. In those early days, in the San Francisco Bay area and all along the coast, wild animals did not fear people as much as they do now. Once in a while, even now, you can get quite close to nature.
It amazes me how strong a connection people used to have with nature and how little most of us have now. Every now and then, though, a fleeting link does happen. I was sitting outside at my deck table reading and enjoying the warm day and a gentle cool breeze. As I sat quietly, a hummingbird buzzed by over my shoulder and dove into the bright red geranium flowers in a nearby window box. It flew on to sip the nectar from the petunias in a hanging basket. I sat quietly and watched it, with my book propped up and open, but not reading or even turning a page. This tiny bird flitted over to the table where I was sitting and visited the petunias in the bowl on the table. It was within twelve inches of my open book. When I made a chirping sound, it flew toward me and came to rest on the top edge of my book. It sat there for a minute, sticking its tongue in and out, looking directly at me. Another hummingbird buzzed over my head and chirped, and the two flew off. You can’t get much closer to nature than that!