Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Galapagos Islands

Here I sit in the February sun. It's 14 degrees F in New Hampshire. I'm watching a flurry of birds at our feeders -- bluejays, chickadees, titmice, and downy woodpeckers. The juncos scurry along the surface of the snow, eating sunflower seeds scattered from the feeders above. Flocks of goldfinch swoop and take over the trees. Mourning doves cover the ground, 14 of them at last count.

Soon, I will be in the Ecuador sun again. It's 80 degrees F at the Galapagos Islands. I'll be watching very different birds -- blue-footed boobies and magnificent frigate birds, flightless cormorants and Galapagos hawk. The famous finches and their beaks may have a message, as they did for Charles Darwin. Will I notice? Will I know what is significant and what is mere fancy?

I don't think Nature indulges in fancy. She has a purpose to every creature, every system, every feather, scale and cell. It's we human animals who ignore this truth, at our peril.

When we visited the Galapagos five years ago, I felt as if we were in another world, on a distant planet. Here, swallow-tailed gulls coexist with marine iguanas and masked boobies. The dark spot in the waves is a surfing sea lion. These animals survive together on isolated volcanic islands with more civility than we find in the marble halls of Congress.

Another fact of Nature we Democrats and Republicans, Fascists and Liberals ignore at our peril.