Sunday, January 4, 2009

Where have all the Wildlife Gone?

"Great Blue Heron"

One of my favorite nature places is Lake Katherine Preserve in Palos Heights. You can walk around a small lake, take photographs if you're so inclined or just sit on one of many benches scattered throughout and meditate on nature's beauty. There's even a manmade falls nearby that is quite beautiful. The water rushing over the rocks is very soothing. I used to love going there during each of the four seasons. Different flowers and different creatures offered a dizzying variety of sights to dazzle my eyes. Yet, it's not really all that remote. Nearby condominiums flank one side of the lake, making it rather urban in a sense. I've noticed in the last few years that the workers at the preserve are trimming and cutting back on the foliage. Perhaps this is to allow new growth to occur, but I rather think it's due to the safety of the visitors who come there. More open land deters crime. It also deters the creatures who once made this haven their home. I used to see a beautiful great blue heron walking around the lake's edge, dipping his long neck into water for succulent fish. It was so much fun to stalk him, trying not to rustle the brush as I moved closer for a better photo. A family of swans was a delight to behold a few years back. I photographed the growth of the babies for much of the year. Then the babies grew up and flew away, never to return. Turtles, muskrats, fish, ducks, geese, snakes, frogs and a variety of birds too numerous to mention here also dominated the landscape. I don't see that kind of wildlife anymore, at least not in that quantity. Now busloads of children are carted in, and led around to see what a nature preserve looks like. A tractor moves quickly around the lake's landscape, trampling brush, killing snakes and scattering the featured creatures. The noises that fill the air are distracting for someone just looking for solitude. As I reflect on this now, I am thankful for the photos I have taken to remember those days past, not realizing that I might never see these special wonders again.
I wish these places would make up their minds about what they want the preserve to be. A wildlife preserve, a park, a zoo, or just another walking path like all the rest. I, for one, was willing to risk my life in nature's wild brush to bond with the exquisite treasures that resided there. I choose, though, not to linger too long on what once was, mourning its passing. For too much pondering on past and future thoughts make the now slip through my fingers. Other opportunities await me, and exploration beckons to me every minute of the day.


Uta said...

Nice to see the photo of Blue Heron. A shame her reserve is being altered by humans. Wonder where she has gone to now.

Soulsearcher said...

I haven't been to Lake Katherine in years. How disappointing to read here what it's become. One of the things I like about my yard is the wildlife I see. Squirrels are plentiful, if pesty--I admit I was ready to be rid of the ones that invaded our attic. Ground hogs lived under our shed for awhile, but they have moved on now. Occasionally we will hear the howl of a coyote and a neighbor has seen one in our yard. We also have had deer come to visit us. The dogs chase the rabbits around as well...It's nice to see the wildlife, a constant reminder that it's not just about us.

Lin said...

For some reason I think I remember that the reason they cleaned up the undergrowth was for a couple of reasons: 1) they were going for the ability to actually see the lake more than on just a small section of the path and 2) they had major beaver problems and I think removing the brush helped discourage the beavers from doing so much damage. I see your side but I also like being able to see the wildlife without crawling through thicket--especially for the kids. Yeah, it's hard to know what is best, isn't it?

Doris said...

Love the photo! You are a tree hugger at heart! Thank you!

april said...

Your story brings tears to my eyes. I prefer it how it used to be too. When I was a kid, I didn't have this kind of place to go to, but I looked around me and was aware of nature how it should be.