Today is the 83rd birthday of Jane Goodall, a person who exemplifies what she says, “Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.” Happy birthday to someone who inspires me, and who has and who continues to play a role in teaching us about the importance of the natural world.
Thinking about the natural world, I begin this April entry with the Ruddy Duck, Oxyura jamaicensis, a small but tough little duck that Rita McMahon of the Wild Bird Fund described as weighing about as much as a can of Coke. McMahon was writing about a ruddy that had been brought to her rehabilitation center after having been rescued in Brooklyn where he was found entangled in a rubber band and injured from an encounter with a dog. When he arrived at the center, she said he bit “like a tiger and hissed like a snake” but he survived. His wounds were cleaned and he received antibiotics and soon was well enough to return to the wild.
This seems to me to be a time when we have to be alert, tough, and bold, and we have to keep in mind that each of us as an individual can make a difference. Our world is going through a change that hit many of us hard at the end of January and made me feel that I had nothing more to write. But in fact, nature is probably more important than ever. We cannot forget the natural world and the EPA, nor can we forget the NEA, NEH, and NIH—the organizations that foster creativity and science.
It is individuals like Jane Goodall and Rita McMahon, who devote themselves to nature, that inspire and help us understand that we are part of a web of life and that even though webs are strong, they can be torn and must be woven back again. To quote Goodall again, “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
So I think about this funny feisty little duck who took on a fierce dog and life-threatening rubber band, but who made it with the help of someone and then several someones who cared. When I took the class in drawing ducks, I gained great respect and admiration for the duck—an amazing creature that can swim, fly, walk on land, and head out into sometimes unwelcoming waters and environments but who can also survive with a little help from his friends. We need to stay together, care for each other, and stay active doing what we believe will keep the world alive.