Surefire ways to find out if you’re a naturalist

Troy Media is pleased to introduce a biweekly column by naturalist and author Geoff Carpentier

Troy Media is pleased to introduce a biweekly column by naturalist Geoff Carpentier. Geoff’s interest in nature started when he was 13, wandering through the woods near his home in northern Ontario. He studied zoology and biological sciences at the University of Guelph before working for more than three decades in senior positions with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. In his spare time, he taught about nature and pesticides at community colleges, was an interpretive guide, authored a book on mammals, was president of the Ontario Field Naturalists and wrote nature columns for local newspapers. Geoff recently published his second book, Antarctic, First Journey. He has visited about 80 countries and island nations on seven continents. I met Geoff on a nature/adventure cruise of Central America. I found his enthusiasm for the world of nature so engaging, I asked him to write for Troy Media. One read and you’ll see why.

– Doug Firby, Publisher

You might be a naturalist if you see that a milkweed plant has sprouted in the middle of your lawn and for weeks you mow around it hoping a monarch butterfly will come to dine. When it does, you’re even more joyed to watch the striped larvae eat the entire plant. Then when it decides it’s time to form a chrysalis, you watch it for days hoping to see the adult emerge. Photo by Geoff Carpentier

Geoff CarpentierJeff Foxworthy made a catchphrase out of “You might be a redneck if …” and made millions from it. I suspect I won’t make anything from my catchy title but at least I’ll have some fun with you all!

You might be a naturalist if you go out of your way not to step on a caterpillar on the sidewalk, or if you pick one up off the trail and move it to a safer spot nearby. Most people don’t even see bugs but a true naturalist always does.

You might be a naturalist if you find a spider, beetle or moth in your home and carefully catch it and release it outside.

You might be a naturalist if you are truly happy to see a squirrel (even if it’s sitting on your bird feeder).

You might be a naturalist if you spend $300 a year for bird food and arrange for someone to fill your feeders when you’re on vacation.

You might be a naturalist if you see that a milkweed plant has sprouted in the middle of your lawn and for weeks you mow around it hoping a monarch butterfly will come to dine. When it does, you’re even more happy to watch the striped larvae eat the entire plant. Then when it decides it’s time to form a chrysalis, you watch it for days hoping to see the adult emerge.

You are truly a naturalist when you’re sad that you miss the day it emerges and you look at every monarch trying to decide if it was ‘yours.’

You might live with a naturalist if – as my wife and I did – you hear an owl over the sound of the television you’re watching and run outside in the pitch dark to hear it more closely.

You might be a naturalist if you love the smell of a skunk (at a distance) and find joy in watching them amble along a roadside, hoping they don’t dart out into traffic.

You are a naturalist if you accidentally run over a chipmunk or squirrel and are absolutely devastated.

You might be a naturalist if, on a rainy night, you see frogs on the road and try to dodge them so they can live to breed in the nearby ponds.

You might be a naturalist if you see a turtle laying eggs and instantly worry if the young will hatch safely many weeks from now. You truly are a naturalist if you find out how you can safely protect the turtle eggs from predators.

You might be a naturalist if you tell all your friends about the birds at your feeders even if they don’t care. You assuredly are a naturalist if you try to convince them they should care!

You might be a naturalist if you’re willing to stare at the sky for hours looking for hawks migrating high overhead in the fall.

You are a naturalist if you sit outside, even in the coldest weather, so you can see what nature has to offer. If it’s really cold, you grab a heavier coat and a lap blanket so you can stay out longer!

You might be a naturalist if you know every tree in your patch and which creatures like which and why.

You might be a naturalist if, when shopping for plants for your garden, you think first of pollinators and then of yourself.

I’m sure many of you can see yourself in this little whimsical offering I’ve made … and good for you! It’s people like us who will make sure future generations can have the chance to be naturalists.

A milkweed plant, ready to become dinner for a hungry monarch butterfly. Photo by Geoff Carpentier

Geoff Carpentier is a published author, expedition guide and environmental consultant. Visit Geoff online at www.avocetnatureservices.com, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

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