Author: Elise Lange, AWF Communications Manager
Some of my favorite mornings are those when I’m the only one awake in the house getting ready to get outdoors. It’s before dawn and I creep silently around, getting my pack together, filling up my water bottle and backup water bottle, grabbing pliers, a jacket, and whatever else I think I’ll need for the day.
This quiet ritual is one that every hunter, angler, hiker, birder, wildlife-seeker, or outdoor enthusiast has. Sometimes it feels like a tiresome task — we’ve woken up too early, it’s too cold outside, and we desperately need coffee.
Everyone brings a different set of things when they get outdoors. Some bring entire backup jugs of water in their trucks or cars, some bring fire-making materials and tools, and others bring a pop-up tent in case they decide to camp overnight.
Much of what you pack depends on what you’re doing outdoors. Are you hunting? You best have your camo and orange vest. Fishing? It’d be a shame to leave home without your bait of choice. As for me, I love to bird — so I absolutely can’t leave home without my binoculars. When I asked the rest of the AWF staff what they absolutely can’t leave home without when they’re getting outdoors, they were all very enthusiastic about water! Other needed items included their cell phone, clothes layers, headlamps, and outdoor knives.
This morning as I got ready to go out and bird, I found myself rushing to get ready. The sun had already begun to rise and I knew I was going to miss peak hours for birding if I didn’t get out soon. Suddenly, I looked down at my coffee mug as I poured creamer in and saw something unexpected.
As the creamer was poured, it swirled into the dark coffee and created this amber glow. I realized a beam of sunlight was shining through my window right into my coffee, making it look almost alive.
It’s so easy sometimes to forget to notice the little things around us — especially when we’re going through our morning motions, rearing to get outside. I have had a similar realization when getting ready to go birding and stopping to look at the birds in my very own backyard. We forget that the outdoors is actually all around us. No, we might not see a rare mammal or spectacular lizard, but animals and plants are still everywhere.
Even if we live in a city, there is life to be seen. Sometimes to see more of it, we have to plant native, grow nectar-providing plants, provide seeds and put out water.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a place you can see wildlife more frequently — especially those rarer ones — make sure to appreciate it all, even as you grow used to seeing those animals and plants.
It’s terrific that Arizona has so many public lands with diverse wildlife that we can experience — whether they be national monuments, parks, wildlife areas, recreational lands, or forests. These are lands where you can hunt, fish, hike, look for wildlife, take nature photos, camp, and do whatever you do outdoors.
But sometimes, it’s nice to take a moment to appreciate the wilds that exist and persist all around us. It’s also good to take a moment — no matter how small — to appreciate your ritual to get outdoors.