Recently, an experience during an early Sunday morning walk in an Edmonds park has had me pondering a single word — and what it means — ever since.
There has been plenty of talk with the upcoming elections about living together in our growing community, finding common ground, and how to move forward in our ever, and rapidly changing, world. Many times, I have heard the word “harmony” used in regard to these issues. This word, “harmony,” is what I have been considering since this stroll.
While walking that morning, I heard bird chatter that I could not immediately identify, emanating from the other end of the park. As I rounded a corner, I discovered what I had been hearing. On the forest floor was a Sharp-shinned hawk, who upon sighting me, flew onto a branch to join another hawk already there. I stood, in awe. Two hawks! How lucky was I to see this? But what I observed next was truly amazing. On the ground, a few feet from the two adults, was a juvenile hawk, squawking at his parents as if asking “where’s breakfast?”
Under its parents’ tutelage the juvenile was learning to hunt and fly under the canopy of the trees. It was an amazing, rare experience to pay witness to not just one hawk, but an entire family!
Knowing that the young hawk needed to focus, and that I was a distraction, I bid my forest friends farewell as I continued my walk. As I passed the nearby playground, I stopped and contemplated what I normally see here. I usually walk through in the middle of the day when the playground is rife with sounds of jubilant children playing. Human parents instruct their offspring on how to swing on the swings by pumping their legs or they are urging a weary youngster to try the slide.
Is this not just what I had observed with the hawks? Parents interacting with, teaching, and encouraging their young ones? It was exactly that. We, as humans, often lose sight to the fact that we are analogous to our wildlife counterparts in so many ways.
The family of hawks are fortunate to have this park and forest to dwell and hunt in, but for our area wildlife in general, things are getting tough. Just in the neighborhood that I live in, I hear chainsaws and trees coming down several times a week. Sadly, this is not isolated to my part of town, it is occurring all over Edmonds.
We boast, as proud Edmonds residents, about how beautiful a place we live in and indeed we do! We tout the views of the Sound, our parks, our trees and wildlife. I excitedly tell friends about the eagles, herons and songbirds that make their homes near mine, and I have overheard similar stories as I walk the waterfront, as Edmonds residents show out-of-town guests the sights. It is evident that we love nature here. However, if we want to continue to live in the natural resplendence that surrounds us, we need to do something now to protect it.
Habitat is dwindling at an alarming rate for the amazing creatures that we eagerly point out to out-of-towners. We know that the orcas are struggling as a result of lack of what they need to survive and thrive (a clean, safe, food-rich habitat.) The plight of the orcas is grimly similar to that of small and large birds and mammals in our region.
In Edmonds, we want our wildlife, we want our trees and a clean Puget Sound, and that is juxtaposed to the need for more housing, and the inevitable reality that development has arrived and isn’t ceasing. So, how do we, as humans — with the power to preserve and protect, and the power to destroy — find harmony with nature?
We as individuals can all do our part, but I particularly implore our elected officials, present and soon to take office, to act, and do so swiftly. Please safeguard our trees, protect the Sound, and defend what we as Edmonds residents cherish, before it is too late. I firmly believe that we can accommodate growth and preserve the natural gifts that we are so blessed to have.
Harmony is possible if we consider others and if we remember that “others” aren’t restricted to the human race.