Back in the day, folks who had piled out of their haphazardly abandoned vehicles in a national park or such scenic area, causing a traffic jam to look at some unfamiliar animal - moose, bear, or alligator - adopted a signature posture. They stood erect, pointing with outstretched arm and index finger. A few ran toward the animal, endangering themselves and often scaring it off.
vVehicles then were mostly Fords and Chevys - mostly all black, utilitarian transportation.
vSomewhat later, people piled out of their haphazardly abandoned vehicles and mostly stood around looking through binoculars. The signature posture. A few ran toward the object of the moment, endangering themselves and usually causing the animal to move off.
vVehicles were larger; station wagons were popular and paint choices had expanded.
vThen came through-the-lens reflex cameras, and people who piled out of their haphazardly abandoned cars, trucks and recreational vehicles stood around peering through cameras held to their faces, in a signature posture. A few excited people ran toward the bear or moose or elk, endangering themselves and, if lucky, causing the animal to leave.
vVehicles were ever larger, and some even were made in foreign land. Some spectators even took the opportunity to look at them.
vToday, people wedge themselves out of ever smaller vehicles or slip out of ever larger ones, creating a traffic jam to stand around once more in the signature position of outreached arm. Only this time, at the end of the arm is some miniature device that, who knows how, takes pictures! So, people look at a tiny view of the animal, not at it. The signature posture of the tourist of the early 2000s.
vThe posture returns but the constant remains: A few people run - run - toward the wild creature, invading its danger zone, endangering themselves and spoiling the pictures and the scene for others.
vWhat goes around, goes around.
vNow, I'm aware, intellectually if vaguely, that those cameras being held at arm's length are digital and thus full of pixels, fractals, algorithms and chips. As a result, if one knows how, one can send images via computers to other computers, make prints, have little Frisbees made that can "hold" multiple images, and all such everyday modern impossibilities.
vComes now an outfit, Zink Imaging, which says it has come up with a handheld color printer that does not use inks to make prints; it's all in the paper. (Zink is short for zero ink. Catchy, eh?) If it reminds you of the Polaroid Land Camera and film/prints of 50 years ago, don't admit it.
vField Notes: Somewhat late, a hint of winter blew in with a combination of rain, sleet and snow. Before the storm, mourning doves, yellow-rumped warblers, goldfinches, Wilson's warblers, osprey and even a flock of 50 robins were reported at the Jackson Hole Bird Club meeting on Oct. 14. Today (well, Saturday), some of those species are missing or keeping dry somewhere. Folks with sheltered feeding stations are happier; the remaining birds know where to go on inclement days.
vRough-legged hawks may have had to move south early this season; several already noted in the region. Great gray owls (Roger Smith) and pygmy owls (Deb Patla) are more easily noted now that most deciduous trees are barer.
vA couple of items worthy of your notice:
v• It's not just lead compounds in toys or peeling wall paints that are harmful; it's also the metal itself on the environment. Lead in bullets used in hunting any game whose parts are left behind and as lost sinkers by fisherman are deadly to raptors, scavengers and some waterfowl: bald eagles, condors, swans.
vLook to California these days for some farsighted political legislation and leadership. Their Gov. Schwartzenegger has just signed a bill making the use of nonlead ammunition mandatory in California condor territory. Way to go! And let's do that everywhere in Wyoming and all other states.
v• And an announcement: A public meeting, which means you are particularly involved, will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 1 at the Jackson Wyoming Game and Fish Department office on North Cache.
vOn that occasion, the upper Snake River Basin Local Working Group will offer its draft conservation plan to assure the continued existence of four sage grouse populations in Jackson Hole, Gros Ventre Valley, Hoback Basin and Star Valley. Landowners, land management agencies, local governments, Wyoming Game and Fish and you are encouraged to pick up a copy of the draft on Oct. 31 and make any comment on Nov. 1.
vComments will be accepted for 30 days, and the final plan will then be completed. As suggested in its title, valley residents have prepared this plan, one of eight in Wyoming alone. Similar plans have been considered in other Western states. Y'all come.
v© Bert Raynes 2007
vBert Raynes writes weekly on whatever suits his fancy with a dash of news on nature and its many ways.