Path to nature has many avenues

A little girl hops along the stepping stones of her grandmother’s garden. Stopping under a tree she spies the lovely blue of a cracked egg shell.

A little girl hops along the stepping stones of her grandmother’s garden. Stopping under a tree she spies the lovely blue of a cracked egg shell. “A Robin’s egg!” says grandma. It is around this time that the girl decides Robin’s egg blue is her favourite colour.

Later Grandma laments the small, dark and speckled birds, “Starlings, those awful things. They’ll kick other bird’s young out of their nests.” Somewhere in the mind of that little girl the concept of an invasive species takes a very rough form, waiting to be molded and put to good use.

A father who loves to hunt and fish, takes his little girl out to forests and lakes in search of game. She loves to reach into the water, leaning in a bit too far. “There’s not a lake in the Capital Regional District you haven’t fallen into,” says dad.

The not-so-little girl explores the Sooke Hills collecting wildflowers. She names plants along the way. Squid Flower is her name for Miner’s Lettuce with its pink to green radiating tentacles of foliage. Presenting her collection to daddy, he remarks, “Those are beautiful, but you shouldn’t pick them.” Afterwards, she learns to take photos instead of plucking flowers, and eventually learns their proper names.

This little girl was me. Today, I am glancing back at the tracery of paths that brought me to nature. Whether you are an outdoorsman, a gardener or a parent, everyone has their own paths to the land.

I first became involved with Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) two years ago when I went listening for Western Screech Owls with biologist Christian Engelstoft. Alas, after two nights, we were not rewarded with a single call. This was a testament to the rarity of these once bountiful creatures. I came away glad to learn the calls of our owls and to contribute to important, local research.

Almost a year later, I became a staff member of HAT. Since then, I have had the pleasure of helping people find ways to connect with their own paths to nature. I am happy to say my mission is to conserve natural habitat on the land where I grew up, doing something tangible to protect the place we call home.

One of my greatest memories so far with HAT, was at a habitat restoration party. Reaching to pull an invasive plant, I saw something incredible: a little blue slug. Dr. Kristiina Ovaska confirmed this as one of only 15 sites in Canada documented to have the rare Blue-grey Taildropper. I was overjoyed!

These are a few special nature moments. I encourage you to reminisce on some of your own. As we spend time outdoors, we better understand nature’s wonders, and appreciate what it means to care for them. I have many people to thank for nurturing an interest in the great outdoors. You never know when you might become someone else’s role model. From hopping along stepping stones in grandma’s garden to the work I do with HAT today, I continue to pursue my passion for nature.

Looking back, what were your paths to nature?

Alanah Nasadyk is the community and development coordinator of the Habitat Acquisition Trust.