A Season of Awareness and Observation
An end of year reflection from Executive Director Glenn Lamb
Earlier this month I watched in awe as chum salmon splashed in the shallow waters of the Columbia River just a stone’s throw from the I-205 bridge. The small tour group I was with was startled when a 500-pound sea lion suddenly breached the river surface, clearly on the chase. That same day, only ten miles away I witnessed sandhill cranes elegantly soaring a mere 30 feet above my head, as they travelled between foraging and roosting grounds.
As part of our new approach to our annual Wild Splendor fundraiser, hundreds of you joined me on the edge of the Portland/Vancouver wildland urban interface to watch salmon and cranes, and to learn about their life cycles and habitats. These two migrations have been happening here for millions of years, long before humans stood up in the Northwest, and yet these ancient rites of passage are often invisible; taking place in the river or sky and out of sight.
However you celebrate this holiday season, it is always timely to acknowledge the changing of nature’s seasons and to pay attention to the shifts they bring, in weather, in wildlife, and in ourselves. Many indigenous cultures are rooted in the idea that “to be human” means to care for all other living things. And caring for other living things starts by being aware of them!
I challenge you to create a new holiday tradition. This season, take the time to observe nature with the goal of learning at least one new thing. This could be right outside your home. Spend an hour just before dusk observing what birds are in flight. Find some downed leaves and poke underneath. What do you see or smell? Look at the branches of nearby plants. Do you see an early indication of next spring’s buds starting to form?
I challenge you to slow down and honor what you see, while acknowledging how much we don’t see and don’t know. Caring for nature begins with being aware of it. Let’s each do our part as humans to grow our awareness and respect. Now that is a gift that keeps on giving!
Glenn Lamb, Executive Director