It was an invitation that brought me to Earthfire. As the digital content manager, I have the luxury of working from home—an arrangement that suits my introverted heart just fine. But since home is 2 ½ hours away, it also means I sometimes feel a bit disconnected from the land and animals of Earthfire. Susan suggested it might be worthwhile for me to meet the rest of the team, both human and animal ambassadors alike, so I accepted the invitation and made the trek north to Driggs.
Susan introduced me first to the bears. There was Humble Bumble, sweetly sucking on his paw like a child might suck a thumb. Beautiful Bramble, towering several feet above my head as he scratched his back and left his scent on a pole. Ramble, eager to play in the water as I refilled his trough, clearly taking pleasure in using his enormous head to splash the water back toward me. And Huckleberry, resting peacefully in the shade.
But it was Teton Totem who invited me to sit with him.
There are no other words to describe it. As I neared his enclosure, Teton came to greet me. He sat, made himself comfortable, and gave me a look that felt like an invitation to join him. Keeping the safe distance from the fence that Susan had asked me to maintain—these are still wild animals, after all—I sat. We just watched each other for a long while and I knew he was as curious about me as I was about him. He was so intelligent. So aware. This was no real surprise to me, but a marvel nonetheless. I felt like I had just made a new friend.
Later, Susan and Jean led me to the garden to meet some foxes. Their energy was a vast departure from the calm and curious nature of Teton. They zipped across the open field in a blur of red and black and tan. They leapt over logs, disappeared into tall grass, stopped for a hearty drink from the pond before racing off again. Foxes, it seems, do nothing without enthusiasm. And once every so often, they would pause at my feet and look up. I don’t speak fox, but I did feel an invitation to Come and run! Come and play! But do it quick—we haven’t got all day! Too slow to keep pace with their energetic explorations, I contented myself with admiring their athleticism from behind the lens of my camera. Your loss, I imagined them saying as they sped away.
Nature is full of invitations. We are invited daily to make connections with the world around us. Take a walk in the park. Canoe down a river. Sit and watch the birds at a feeder. Pet a cat, purring on your lap. Explore. Move. Create. Learn. And just as I experienced with the animals at Earthfire, we can either accept the invitation and find ourselves forever changed, or we can sit back and watch it move along without us. The choice is ours.
On my way home from Earthfire, I stopped at a scenic overlook over a deep canyon and braided river. While enjoying the view, I happened upon a golden eagle, perched in a tree not 20 feet from the path I followed. I snapped a few photos with the mid-range lens I’d put on the camera when I left the car, but thought I’d like to try to get some closer shots with my telephoto, so I headed back to retrieve it.
Along the way, I passed a man sitting alone at a picnic table. I had the sudden urge to tell him about the eagle.
No way, I argued with my conscience. I’m not going to talk to a stranger when I’m alone at a rest stop.
But the feeling persisted. Tell him about the eagle.
So I did. When he looked up and gave a friendly smile, I steeled my courage and blurted, “If you like birds, there’s a golden eagle right there.”
“Oh, cool,” he said, sounding polite but disinterested.
Oh well, I thought. I tried.
But when I returned with my telephoto lens, the man was standing near the tree where the bird was perched. I joined him just long enough to snap a few more pictures, then turned to leave. Before I got far, the man called after me.
“Thank you for pointing this out to me,” he said. “It’s really cool.”
Earthfire’s mission is to change the way people see and therefore treat wildlife and nature. I’d harbor a guess that most of our readers already have a deep and abiding love for the natural world. We are, in essence, preaching to the choir.
But with the myriad distractions of modern life, there are many who, like the man with the bird, don’t even know there’s something to see.
And so I issue an invitation of my own: become a voice that magnifies the invitations of Life. Be kind—always be kind—and open the door for others to see nature in a new way.
We can change the world, or we can sit back and watch it move along without us.
The choice is ours.