A blog focused on nature, science, environmental topics, and happenings at the Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC).

A Naif in the Forest by Darrell Berger

Wing Tips to Hiking Boots: Musings of a New, Full-Time Poconos Resident

Last week the Naif in the Forest was the Naif in Florida, but fear not, I have returned in time for the sub-zero weather. While basking in the very rainy but sixty degree grayness which locals described as “the worst weekend here in four years,” my wife and I enjoyed the Morikami Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach during a brief sunny interval. We saw a snowy egret walk very, very slowly across the path. He peered into the bush and stared for a long time, completely still. 

Suddenly, he pierced his head into the bush and emerged with a wiggly lizard, desperate to escape. He turned his beak upward and the lizard gradually slid down and down, still wiggling. One could see his journey down the egret’s slim neck, wiggling no more. The reptile disappeared into the egret’s stomach. The bird then moved equally slowly to another bush and another lizard. Finally, he turned around and briefly stared right at me, before he returned to the side of the path I had first seen him. That stare, given what I had just observed, was terrifying. 

As he stared at me I thought, “I’m really glad this bird isn’t eighty feet tall,” because if he were, I’d be headed for the fate of the lizards. I recalled that these guys had once been dinosaurs. Even T-Rex was only about 20 feet tall so I might not have been swallowed whole, but still. 

Our stroll through the gardens was very meditative and restorative, except for that one incident of nature’s insistent brutality played out before my overactive imagination. We adjourned for lunch to the beautiful restaurant overlooking the gardens. 

I ordered a bento box, a traditional Japanese lunch, including shrimp, salmon and chicken. In one lunch, without having to hunt, fish or kill, at least not directly, I devoured far more creatures than the hungry egret. My wife ordered the vegetarian alternative. I should have either done the same, or at least not have recoiled so from the gaze of the lizard-swallowing egret.




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