Today I have a little surprise for you. I'm going to break character and tell you a little secret. It's something that you might not expect from me from the things I've been telling you. I probably should have talked about this before, but I've had more fun holding it back. What is this secret? The secret is...
The people of the forest. Who are they, these people of the forest? That's an easy one. They are the people that I meet on my everyday adventures. Up until now I've told you how mean and angry I get when I see other people roaming around my peaceful forest paths. It's the truth, but not the complete truth at all.
The real truth is that I like seeing other people out there sometimes. Really I do. For all of you city dwellers, and for some of you who aren't used to a city, there's something I need to explain. While you're in the middle of a city most people are extremely rude to each other. If you live in the country it's not the same as in a busy city. I don't know why that is, but it just is. Not all of time of course, but most of the time.
It's a completely different experience in the forest on a hiking trail, than in a city. It's like being in the country. Most of the people you pass by give you a friendly greeting. Almost never in a city. In the forest we all have something in common. The love of nature. Sometimes people will excitedly stop me with a story of the animal they just saw, or some other interesting thing that happened.
On the place I go to see the nesting goose, there is retired man who I frequently compare pictures with. We show each other what we have collected on our cameras for that day. I met him shortly after discovering the goose. We don't say much else except for our talk of nature. He once told me that the city there has been trying to buy the land to make that nature preserve for twenty years. It just opened last fall.
Yesterday while I was walking through the forest, I saw a group of people standing on the trail. They were all looking up into the trees. A few had expensive looking binoculars. The rest had really good cameras. I noticed one guy carrying a camera with a lens that was as big around as my arm! It was almost as long. These people were obviously bird watchers.
I smiled to myself as I walked by, because I've been telling all of you that I have to sneak up on any animals that I photograph, and I'm getting pretty good at it. I do it because my camera is just a point and shoot digital camera. With the camera that guy has, there shouldn't be any bad pictures. Half of mine turn out blurry!
With all of those fancy cameras, no wonder there are so many beautiful pictures on the internet! I'm still happy with my humble little camera though. It's fun to develop my sneaking skills. I've also had to develop a few skills to make the animals like me a little bit. Sometimes they get angry with me for tricking them, but it works well enough.
Right after seeing the animal fight I told you about yesterday, I walked around a bend and saw a woman with a very small little girl. The girl couldn't have been older than three years. The woman looked to be her grandmother. The woman was teaching her about the forest in a special grandmotherly way. It made me smile.
When they saw me coming, the little girl looked up with a little bit of fear in her eyes. That's the usual reaction to me from little kids. I was already smiling, so I gave the little girl a wave, the kind you do for small children. The grandmother smiled at me. The little girl looked shyly towards the ground, the fear still in her eyes.
I walked past them and on my way out of the trails towards the parking lot. When I got there the parking lot was very full. I liked that. More people should experience nature. It's good for them. It's good for us all. I got in my truck, and went home happy. I talk to a lot of people at those nature parks. Even more since I wrote most of this story.
One final note on this. I'm sure you've noticed that I have no pictures of any of these people. I've said in the past that I don't really like taking pictures of people. For one thing, I think they spoil nature pictures when they're in them. For another, most people feel like that little girl did when there's a camera pointed at them. I don't want to scare any animal more than necessary, not even the human kind.
Make sure you come back tomorrow. I have something very special for you. I'll give you a clue. Who is Ratty?