Never Go Critter Watching with a Bird Watcher

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On the way to a bankrupt beaver ranch to build portable cages so we could transport and release captive families of beavers into the streams of amenable ranchers, my boss/supervisor and I grabbed food at McDonald’s and headed toward the ranch.


She was driving. At one point after she had finished her meal and drink, I was utterly astounded (not to mention silently appalled) to watch her open the window and toss out the sacks in which her food had been delivered to us.


My mouth flew open! I hadn’t tossed a bag of trash out of a car window in my entire life. It just wasn’t done! I’d throw organic materials— apple cores, leftover sandwiches, etc.—well off the roadway for scavengers and wildlife to find and enjoy, but NEVER trash!


But she was my boss, the daughter of the founder of the organization, so I picked my jaw up off my knees and kept quiet. (I still can’t fathom this type of oblivious behavior, all these decades later! Apparently it was so customary in her family that it wasn’t even a thing…)


I mention this in passing because if you’re a litter bug, you might want to reconsider throwing out trash when anyone else is in the vehicle, because you either pass on the behaviors to your children unwittingly, or you astound and upset the other passengers in your vehicle and anyone else who happens to be driving on the same roadway you are. Littering is against the law, but it’s also just plain WRONG!!!)


The entire foregoing was an aside. This blog has nothing to do with littering, as evidenced by its title…but the incident is a sad, raised, still-red, festering scar in my heart and on my psyche and I can’t think of, or write about, the rest of the “adventure” until I purge myself of its memory by sharing it with you.  (Again, if you litter, please reconsider! The environment thanks you and I thank you!)


So we were on our way to the beaver ranch which, as I recall, was about eighty miles from the airport. So to pass the time, we decided to critter watch because we're in a northern state and there are different critters in Idaho than there are in northern California.


The problem was that I was a ground dweller-watcher and she was a bird-watcher, and ne’er the twain shall meet.


Whenever either of us would exclaim, “Look!” the other would look in exactly the wrong direction to be able to see what was being pointed out.


When I said “Look!” her eyes would bolt skyward, completely missing the vision I was enjoying. When she would say, “Look!” my eyes would dart furtively toward the ground—searching in vain for the critter she was so excited about witnessing.


It was a disaster because neither of us could manage to break out  of our habitual response to the command, “Look!” We didn’t even have time to look at the other to see where she was looking; our eyes just automatically went where “Look!” carried them.


It was no use. It was so frustrating that we gave it up.


These days I go bird-watching with bird watchers and critter-watching with critter watchers, because doing it any other way can give me whiplash and a headache or so much frustration that I get gloomy.


Do you have any similar stories that revolve around dissimilar habitual reactions? I would love to hear them! Please share!

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