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News & Issues > Every Creature Has Need for Space

Every Creature Has Need for Space

This was published in our local paper, and I thought it especially poetic.

Every creature has need for space
By Kevin J. Cook

Space: It comes in little nooks and crannies and in sprawling basins and deep canyons. And yet none of these, separately or collectively, truly characterizes what space is.

Place: It's here and there and everywhere, really. And yet, trying to comprehend place is much like trying to hold air in your hands.
Thinking of these things, of space and place, sets my mind to wandering; and the memories of certain special bluebirds keep my thoughts from getting completely lost.

Many years ago I received a letter asking for advice. A man owned a quarter-acre lot with a house toward the front and a small grove of trees toward the rear. Eastern bluebirds nested in a box he had hung on one of the trees.

How, he wanted to know, could he get more bluebirds to use his yard.
By return letter I explained that one pair of eastern bluebirds needs about two to four acres of space and that in some areas that may increase to 10 or more acres. My suggestion was that he work with neighbors to improve the general area to favor nesting by eastern bluebirds.

He wrote me back to say he would ask somebody else!

He didn't understand space and what it means to a pair of nesting birds. Most people don't understand space. Too often people dismiss wildlife needs by asserting the animals can go somewhere else.

But where is somewhere else? If such a place exists, it already has wildlife of its own; and just as you cannot put 15 eggs in a one-dozen carton or five quarts of milk in a one-gallon jug, you cannot, we cannot, squeeze more and more wildlife into smaller and smaller spaces.

Nature does not work that way.
Every wildflower, fern and tree, every bird butterfly and bat needs a certain amount of space. Like the wildlife we enjoy and admire, we, too, need space.

Though some people can log their miles on a stationary bicycle or a treadmill in an exercise gym, other people need space outdoors to exercise effectively. Neither is right or wrong; the only meaningful interpretation considers what is right for each individual.

Where do you go when your heart needs fresh air your lungs cannot provide?
Where do you go when your mind needs quiet time to separate tangled thoughts?
Where do you go when your spirit needs the company of an owl?
Where do you go when your grandchild wants to see a live turtle in the wild?
Where do you go when you want to share a special vista with a special friend?

Such pursuits require spaces, and lots of them because the space that satisfies the owl probably won't accommodate the turtle.
Some people live their lives happily without ever engaging an owl or a turtle; for them a picture in a book or on the computer screen is perfectly adequate.

This discourse, however, is not about them. But then, it's not about you or me, either. It's about us. All of us. Together.
We all need spaces in our lives. Spaces that restaurants and theaters and sports fields cannot provide. And what we all need are places where we can find those essential spaces.
Stay with me on this, and next week I will discuss open spaces and whether we should tax ourselves to have them.

Copyright Loveland Reporter-Herald Oct 13, 2014.

posted on Oct 14, 2014 7:22 AM ()


Very good piece about the crowding that will do us in. The guy who didn't want to take his advice just wanted an easy fix -- like telling him to put out an extra bird feeder. He wanted simple. There is no simple.
comment by tealstar on Oct 15, 2014 9:48 AM ()
Yew be right! They is nine kittehs in this house and only 8 rooms.
comment by hobbie on Oct 15, 2014 6:23 AM ()
Isn't taht what we all clamor for? "I need my own space!" Very good article.
comment by greatmartin on Oct 14, 2014 8:29 AM ()
I read it to my cat, and she agreed.
reply by troutbend on Oct 14, 2014 5:32 PM ()
I love this. I often worry about wildlife, esp deer while we humans take over all the land on this planet.
comment by kristilyn3 on Oct 14, 2014 8:18 AM ()
We see it a lot with the bears around here, simply no safe place for them to go.
reply by troutbend on Oct 14, 2014 5:30 PM ()
This is so meaningful. I have to have my time outdoors in the morning to
function well all day. I like the analogy of squeezing l5 eggs in a carton
for a dozen.
comment by elderjane on Oct 14, 2014 8:05 AM ()
It is very poignant because here in the flood-damaged area, we are hearing: 'Why should they be allowed to live there? They should live in town.'
reply by troutbend on Oct 14, 2014 5:21 PM ()

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