Walking stick gives us a view of life from the ground up

By Lnn Moncus

Recently, one of my former students remarked in a letter that I have “more fun than most over the simple pleasures in life.” I think she was a bit amused at one of the pictures of an insect I had taken and had sent to her. Perhaps, not all letter writers would illustrate the missives with some of the pictures of nature that I tend to use. Probably, most of them don’t bother to stop along the way to check out the latest sighting of an insect.

In that case, I had noticed a walking stick eating his lunch while gracing the side of a Scottish thistle. I learned to call those insects “devil’s walking sticks” just as I also learned to call the praying mantis a “devil’s horse.” At least, they both seem to be of the same family, but I’m not sure why “devil ” was attached to their names. Obviously, someone decided that they were a bit evil or mischievous for some reason.At any rate, that walking stick caught my attention because I hadn’t seen one recently and because I wanted to study him a little more closely. He really looks like a walking stick and could be confused with a small stick or blade of grass. Unless a person looks closely, he won’t see the very long, jointed legs, or note the tiny head crowned by two lengthy antennae. Nature has a wonderful way of disguising so many of her creatures and makes us have to look very carefully in the event we want to see some of the more unusual ones.

Well, no wonder I prefer to take those solitary walks. Who would want to amble along while a companion became stalled checking out an unusual insect or plant? Why would anyone even bother to take note of such things? I can’t begin to answer the latter question other than to say that I like to look very carefully at whatever nature places before me and like to take a few minutes to learn a little about what I’m inspecting. Part of this strangeness comes from those very early years in the canyons during which I was very close to the ground and liked to see what that ground had to offer.

The sand at the bottom of the canyon was great fun to play in and had many sparkling bits of mica in it; whereas, the clay near the springs was very slick and had quite an unpleasant odor. The caliche out of top had many fossils framed in that whiteness and showed off many beautiful colors when held in just the right light. The dirt and rocks in each area had a different flavor. Yes, tasting was also a part of testing and learning.

By taking time to learn some of those facts at an early age, I have remained interested in the ground upon which I walk and like to spend time inspecting some of it rather closely. Those pauses for inspecting give Aggie a chance to note her surroundings and to look inquisitively at the slave while wondering what is holding the attention this time. They also give said slave a chance to relax and think about the wonders of nature while clearing the mind of the clutter of the moment.

Anyone who loves to be out in the pastures of our county spends more time than they realize in noting those small wonders and also in noting the vastness of our land and sky. They note the colors of the mesas in order to judge the mood of the weather and check out the clouds to see the ever-varying formations. While doing all of this, they are probably relaxing without even realizing how calming a few minutes in those pastures can be. Enjoying the simple pleasures provides an internal joy that is immeasurable and that keeps some of us heading on through life while enjoying each day.