It's 5:11 am and the sun is going to rise at 5:23. I was a bit slow walking up the mountain because I had to tackle some spiderwebs, so now I'm hurrying to make it to the top before dawn breaks. And then I see two wild boars before me. One of them darts down the mountain, breaking twigs and causing rocks to tumble on its way out of sight. The other dives into the undergrowth uphill. It's a steep hill, though, and I stop still as a rock, listening and waiting for it to climb up, up, and out of my way. But it doesn't. It hides there and make grunting noises.
I've never had a boar do that to me before.
I have a broom as a weapon and a dustpan as a shield. I might be safe if it decided to charge me. But I can't imagine why it would. It has me in full view. I'm going to be walking away from it, and I'm not going to make any sharp movements. Still, I've never had a boar before that didn't want to get as far away from me as possible.
Well, I want to get as far away from it as possible, so I keep walking, making big noisy steps, and shouting, "Ho!" at intervals. And then, in the dim blue light of dawn shadows, I see the piglets. There are 3 of them running around in circles. They're agitated. And their mother is waiting up the hill, still grunting for them to find her. And me? I have walked right between the babies and their mother.
Oh wow this is by the books the stupidest position to ever be in.
If I back up, the mother might think I'm after her, and charge me. If I go forward, the mother will think I'm after her babies and charge me. So what's left to do? I cower down next to a tree and let some mosquitos bite me.
The babies are really cute. They have no idea what to do. They're absolutely terrified of me. Their instinct says to run, but they don't know where to, so they're chasing each other in circles. The circle gets closer and closer to where I am, but when they get a good look at me, they freak out and run back. Their mother is still grunting to them. Finally, they all dive down the hill out of sight of me, then run back up the hill on the other side to unite with their mom.
I've missed watching the sun rise by now.
But hey, I didn't get charged by a mother boar.
It's all good.
That adventure reminded me. . .
A lot of people around me don't like animals. Maybe it's because so much of the land is cemented over and they aren't used to them around. Maybe it's because I'm just making friends with the wrong kind of people. But I've started to kind of understand it. People don't like animals when they feel like they don't understand that animal's behavior. They don't know what to expect and that can be scary. And I feel like I've picked up a lot of knowledge just by being out on mountains all the time.
For example, wild boars are generally out at dusk and dawn, and will be generally resting and inactive in the heat of the day.
Or, horseflies sleep at night so I don't worry about them bothering me on a night walk or if I'm hiking before the crack of dawn.
If a beetle gets on you and wants to get off, it will generally crawl up, whereas a centipede will crawl down.
Snakes would rather run from you than attack.
Asian killer hornets will make a clicking sound to warn you to back off before they sting you.
Your camera looks like a giant scary eye to run away from.
Depending on how big or small the animal is depends on whether they're attuned to lower or higher pitches, and the pitch of your voice will warn them away.
Frogs are sensitive to the vibrations of your feet on the ground.
Mushrooms reflect light to a very high degree, so they'll glow in your flashlight at night, but will be so hard to distinguish from the background during the day.
Finally, there is a flow to the seasons that isn't just the four categories we put them in. I know the first flowers that bloom in spring, and the order in which the others bloom, and the kinds of bugs that feed on new leaves, versus their adult forms that fly through the air later in summer. I know how long it takes the baby birds to grow up, which means I can expect when their new nests will be made. Everything's tied together. There aren't certain butterflies on my mountain because we don't have their host plants. There aren't leeches because we don't have deer. People say, "How do you know the difference between this flower and that flower?" Well one blooms earlier than the other. "I don't want to go to the mountain because I'm afraid of snakes." There's no way you could possibly encounter a snake in that season. And I can see how global warming affects the natural flow in very minute ways, like the brown and grey of falling leaves that I'm seeing this year, which were red and orange six years ago. I don't feel like this is knowledge in the way that a scientist studies the environment. It's more like religion, where you just feel it and know it without thinking about it.