“Several of Nature’s People
I know, and they know me–
I feel for them a transport
“A Narrow Fellow in the Grass” by Emily Dickinson
We are an animal-loving family. We have a dog, Templeton, and a cat, Dolores. We have an aquarium of consistently and rapidly multiplying fish.
When I was a child, I filled the bathtub in our apartment with frogs and tadpoles that my brother and I caught in our New Jersey neighborhood and kept caterpillars in Maxwell House coffee jars. I kept too many hamsters and guinea pigs in aquariums; and with apologies to Peter and Bugs for my pitiful memory, I’m pretty sure there was a rabbit at one point, too. And despite an inexplicable and very real bird phobia, animals and I get along famously.
In our yard, many of Nature’s People reside–juicy worms, the occasional snake, and a plethora of snails. And this weekend Edgar found his first snail. He held it as gently as he could and was rewarded with a visit from the little mollusk who popped out of his shell to say hello.
And though I don’t think I would necessarily react gracefully to a tub full of tadpoles or embrace the idea of keeping rodents in too-small glass enclosures in my livingroom, I am happy to be in Nature and to have Oscar and Edgar get to know the creatures among us where they dwell. My wish is that they develop that “transport of cordiality” that will ensure they also develop the respect and awe that Nature deserves.