Friends tell me that I attract animals. Over the years we’ve had rabbits in our basement and birds in our attic. We even had a possum in the basement once. Exciting times! Long drives in the car usually lead to several animal sightings per trip, especially at night.
Despite this, I doubt that I am an animal attractor. But I do strive to be aware of their presence, and that can make a big difference. Granted, it’s hard not to notice wild animals in your basement, but outside the house, it’s very easy for us to block out everything but our own human business and self-concerns.
It’s easy to forget that we share the world with billions of other creatures that have as much a right to live in peace as we do. It’s easy to forget that our actions affect their existence just as their existence affects ours. A recent family beach trip was a good reminder of how this is true.
It amazes me how much trash people leave behind on the beach. Picking up your trash isn’t that hard. It really should be done to perfection by everybody, every time. When we don’t hit that mark, the trash usually blows out into the water or gets sucked out by the tides. By now you’ve probably heard about what a huge problem we have with plastics and other trash floating in the ocean.
Many marine creatures don’t have great eyesight, and they often confuse our trash for their food. Plastic bags look like jellyfish. Small pieces of garbage look like small, edible fish. When sea life attempts to eat our junk, it often lodges in their throat and suffocates them. Or perhaps they swallow it fine but die from the ensuing lack of digestion.
People have been talking about this problem for decades and yet it seems that our habits may be getting worse. Litter on the beach creates more than an eyesore for vacationers. It causes serious problems for the ocean and its inhabitants both nearby and thousands of miles away. Most of the trash on the beach is very small and may be easily overlooked as we pack up our chairs, umbrellas and boogie boards for the day. But we need to leave the beach at least as clean as we found it. And we need to be aware of what can happen to animals and the environment when we don’t.
Driving home late at night from that same beach trip, we encountered two raccoons, two deer, a fox, a skunk and an unidentified small mammal. All were either feeding alongside the road, or crossing it. I try to be hyper-alert and aware of roadside animals, especially after our horrible incident with a fox a few years back.
With other drivers sometimes trailing along angrily behind me, I drive at a slower speed, scanning the area for animals I know may be one sudden move from the roadway. Nobody wants to hit a deer or any other animal while driving, but do we take any steps to prevent that from happening? Are we alert? Are we looking for these creatures as we drive? Can we dial our speed back a little bit to give us a bit more time to react to surprises on the road?
I’m tired of seeing dead animals along the roadways and choked ocean life on the news. We need to do better. The first step in solving any problem is always to build an awareness of the situation. So let’s try to be more aware of the animals we share the earth with. Let’s clean up after ourselves at the beach and everywhere else. Let’s drive with a wider consciousness, alert not just to other drivers, but to the four-legged as well.
Look for animals wherever you go and you’ll often see them. They’re most often aware of our existence. Let’s return the favor.
Five O’clock Shadow is supported by readers like you. Donations are greatly appreciated!
Make a monthly donation
Make a yearly donation
Choose an amount
Or enter a custom amount
Thank you very much!
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly