No matter how small, nature is everywhere, and no matter how large, nature can always find a special corner in our hearts. The prevailing concept of nature is vast acres of untouched, Earth-made land that stretches beyond the horizon’s end. Yet, we often overlook the smallest, yet most apparent essences that create the natural world that envelops us. In the grand scheme of the biosphere, or an ecosystem, or even my backyard, it seems queer to adore something like a lowly bush. In our surroundings, however, a bush is anything but lowly.
Soft tabby paws pad through the stretch of open, yellow-grassed yard, making their way into the undergrowth near the bush. Inside, four mewling kittens squirm restlessly, revealing their off-white undersides as their mother strokes them. Hazel-green eyes gaze around at the shadows of the dense brush, and sometimes I can observe little flashes of brown with black stripes darting around while I pry a bough aside to peer inside. One kitten, however, bears a jet-black pelt with bright peridot eyes, tantamount to the dark night and shimmering stars that we can no longer appreciate.
Trekking through meters of 5-inch snow, the mother and her train of four kittens brave the harsh weather outside the bush, which has been masked in a blanket of white. Pursuing them would lead me to the barren woods behind my neighborhood lake, where these feral cats have nestled near the felled logs and deemed this their summer home.
However, the late February snow and departure of the cats could only remind me that spring is right around the corner. The snow melts, and flowers take root in the fertile soil around the bushes. A robin couple chirp as they collect twigs and other scattered miscellanea to rebuild the nest that had been destroyed by the cold and the inquisitive kittens. Soon the female will lay eggs and tend their three peeping fledglings, watching them grow up within a short 13 days. Sometimes, I cautiously hoist a bough to explore the ten different species of flowers, twenty species of insects, the robin family, and occasionally a fleeing rabbit or a flitting blue jay.
As I pull open the shades to take a peek at the bush outside my window, I can’t help but smile at how much diversity and wildlife a mere unprotected shrub can behold. My bush has its very own calendar, its circadian rhythms, and its circle of life. Every day, we rush to school, extracurriculars, and other places, paying no mind to these beautiful beings. Once a while when we pause and observe nature, we can always be surprisingly touched by the spirit of life. The bush is one of nature’s finest keepsakes; it always reminds us of how wonderful life is.
I watch my cats depart in the chilly February morning, thinking about the new season just beginning.
Top photo by tlorna