This place has felt like a test on many levels. So many things that I would not normally have thrown myself into I have done. I have been calling places and talking with them about money (something that makes me feel very uncomfortable). I have put myself in an environment where it is assumed that because I have not gone through college I do not know much in regards to the natural world (which felt like a kick in the pants at first), and have to work hard to show that I do actually give a shit about the forest around me and I am dedicating my life to it, not just some young kid who is here because I thought it would be “fun”. The youngest person here next to me is five years older than I am and has a degree of some sorts to show. But I have decided to recommit myself and push forward; Sure, I’m young and don’t have nearly the experience my colleagues do, but I have enthusiasm and heart and I think it’s about time I realized that I can bring that to the party and that that can mean just as much as a degree.
I have had two rather remarkable experiences this past week. I was sitting up at one of the lookouts this past weekend. There was a a very nice couple sitting in front of me looking out for birds too, and I was pointing things out to them like I usually do, and it was the end of the day so most people had left. A boy walked up to me, about a year younger than I was, and asked me how he could “do this” (gesturing to the mountain valley below) for a living. He looked like he was troubled, so I just invited him to talk with me. He told me how his whole family had desk jobs and spent their whole lives indoors. How that was not what he wanted. He showed clear passion and interest in nature, but nobody had ever talked to this boy about what he could do to further that passion. He was going into his local community college this next year, and not a single person had talked to him about his future. He didn’t have any idea how he could get outdoors. I gave him all of the information about programs I had, about LEAPNOW, about the internship I was doing, about primitive skills and guiding. And by the end he was so grateful and happy. The older couple in front of me turned and said “That was really great, he will remember you.” That one really hit me.
The second experience I had this week was one of a different nature. I have been tracking a female fox around here since I got here, and a few weeks ago I realized she was hanging around a den. This week I went to go check the den out, and saw something move. It took me about 45 minutes or so to get close since I had to stalk up, but when I got there I realized what was moving. Three little fox kits were tumbling, playing, pouncing on dead leaves, and periodically taking naps at the entrance. I got to within about six or so feet of the den entrance and stopped. Occasionally they would waddle over in my direction, then get bored and continue tackling each other. It was an incredible experience to have been following the other in March, and be able to watch her babies play in May. Amazing.