When I was up in the Yukon Territory a week ago, I had the chance to visit a Wildlife Refuge and Preserve. Dave asked, "Isn't that like a zoo?" Hmmm....at first I thought maybe it was just how I was viewing it, but then...no. The difference is that all the original tenants in this 700 + acre site were rescued from nearby areas. Yes, some of their babies have since been born in captivity but the fact is that some were injured and wouldn't have lasted out in the wild. And, by the way, have you seen that wilderness up there? I'm not certain I could last very long out in the wild up there.
So, I had the chance to tour this great place with a newfound friend from one of my workshops. We walked 2 - 3 miles through the natural habitats of so many different animals. Animals, by the way, that are quite different from our Tucson locals of javelina and bobcat.
I knew right away that Christine (my knowledgeable guide and fun friend) was a kindred spirit when we stopped to watch some muskox, and she asked, "Do you know what I think they would sound like if they had human voices?" Yes!! As a former principal who had over 30 different puppets that found their fame on the weekly news program we did for the kids, I was no novice to creating voices for animals.
We laughed as we decided those muskox had just had their hair done, had put on their long shabby coats and were going to walk into town to join friends for tea. They didn't move too quickly, and it was likely because they had too much coat on for the weather or for their bodies. I get that. My mother used to do that, too. It would be late springtime in Florida--upper 80's outside and she would be wearing her long coat to take Peaches, her long-haired Chihuahua, out for a walk.
Next stop was the habitat that housed the lovely ladies of the Mountain goat community. With their thin faces and their high heels, I somehow pictured them saying, "Well, hellooooo!!" a la Mrs. Doubtfire. I can just imagine they are thinking, "These heels have no place on these hills."
When we got to the area that housed the Arctic fox, I fell in love. While we saw two little guys in there, with their delicate features against their perfectly white fur, one was perfectly content to lie down in the sunshine, while the other little guy was in play mode. I kept thinking he wanted us to come and play with him. He'd run one way in front of us then ran back the other way, as quickly as he had come. I imagined he would talk a bit like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland and would have a thing or two to tell people about the necessity of being punctual.
But maybe the little guys that had the most impact on me were not in this refuge but rather all along the Alaska Hwy, as I drove from Whitehorse west towards Alaska. I would go for 30 minutes without seeing another human or vehicle, but not so with the little ground squirrels, or sik-sik. I am guessing that my estimate of 40 would only be an understatement. But the funniest thing is where they were. As I drove through this rich wilderness, these little guys would be on the shoulder of the road, looking amazingly like they were waiting for GroundSquirrel Bus Line #9. They'd turn their heads to watch for oncoming traffic then as I approached, almost lean over on a hip like they were saying, "Come on. A guy's got places to go." They made me laugh out loud. But I did wonder if they had to report back to their buddy's family members when someone didn't make it. "We lost a guy out on the road today."
I get it. I know I am being quite anthropomorphic throughout my blog. But the fact of the matter is: that happens to be my only point of reference and they are pretty hilarious.
Just for today, I am hopeful you are enjoying the wonders of the world, whether your are on the road or in your own back yard.