It is just a antelope. I went with my friend to New Mexico for a few days. He is originally from that state. For the 20-plus years that I have known him, he has dreamed of spending a significant part of his life close to his roots. His urge to do that seems stronger than for most folks. His relatives live in that area, and it was a true pleasure to see his eyes soften and feel his heart thump peacefully while we were there.
He has purchased a lovely piece of ground and is intent on making it a wildlife habitat. There is no house on the land. His uncle met us there, and we slept in a tent and under the stars. He who snores loudest sleeps farther away....
I felt a sense of history and a connection with this land and this man since my roots are in west Texas close to Amarillo which isn’t too far. The Santa Fe trail is very close. The Point of Rocks is visible from our camp. It was a burial site for people traveling the Trail and there are 11 unmarked graves. It is on the New Mexico Scenic By-way.
After a careful examination of the land by a biologist, a strategy was devised to improve this land. Every pinon tree (the state tree of New Mexico) is carefully protected. The large pine trees are struggling due to juniper trees crowding around them and stealing the precious small amount of water that comes with the infrequent rain. Cutting out those junipers was our project and the chain saws hummed. We found small pines under a lot of the junipers. The large, beautiful junipers were spared, but the scraggly water-stealers were removed. The cut trees are moved to areas where erosion damage is occurring. He feels the strong responsibility that we have to protect our land and our critters. It is just a antelope, but it and the deer and the elk and coyotes and mountain lions will have a better home due to his efforts.
I think this effort to save our natural space is vital. I look at the Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Wild Turkey Federation and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation with genuine respect. They all are in the business of saving habitat. We have local habitat heroes in our area-- and I always enjoy reading the description of families who excel in protecting their wild spaces. Their recognition is so well deserved. There was a push last year to enjoin families to develop backyard bird areas with water, food and shelter. There is a certificate available for homes that complete the process. I would encourage all who can to do that little bit for our feathered visitors. It was important for a lot of them in this recent winter. It is a withering thought to imagine that the gorillas and snow leopard may disappear in our life time due to habitat loss.
I respect and admire my friend. We have shared many things over the years, but I think this effort will endure long past our memories. I hope he is a inspiration to you as he is to me and this trip was a treasure. Thank you, Robin.