As a member of a nature religion, I’m supposed to be familiar with the plants and animals in the neighborhoods in which I live and work.
I work at Nevis Labs, a 68-acre estate in Westchester NY. As a result of carving rune sets I know how to identify the types of trees on the property. (The study of trees is “dendrology,” so I guess I’m an amateur dendrologist.) Occasionally I’ve seen some animals on the estate: lots of deer and squirrels; a couple of groundhogs; chipmunks; a couple of times I saw a coyote.
I’m told that there are foxes on the estate, and that wild turkeys pass through Nevis. I’ve never seen them. Then again, I’ve only worked here 30 years.
Of course, there are many birds that wander through the Nevis estate. I know a crow and a robin when I see one. Otherwise, I didn’t know one kind of bird from another. I was not living up to my responsibility as a Wiccan. Shame on me!
That changes this week. The chief administrator at Nevis made arrangements with the Audubon society to have bluebird nestboxes placed on the estate. She’s going on vacation for a couple of weeks, and she’s asked me to monitor the boxes.
I have to make sure that only native birds make use of the boxes: bluebirds; tree swallows; titmice; chickadees; Carolina and House wrens; nuthatches. House sparrows (also known as English sparrows) are not native species; they will kill bluebirds, destroy their eggs, or drive them from their nests. Of course, I can’t do this unless I can tell a tree sparrow from a nuthatch.
I’m learning someone new about life in a part of the world in which I spend a good chunk of my time. I’m excited. I feel like I’m filling in another part of my pagan education.
Who says you can’t teach an old HP new tricks?