Here's to Mother Nature - and Maternal Instincts
By Julie Perine on May 13, 2012
Practically right out of the egg, fuzzy little goslings take to the water; their mama guiding the single file swim. She teaches, nurtures and protects. A hissing sign is her warning, but continue to threaten her babies and she’ll show you that she means business.
That seems to be the way of the world: When it comes to the well-being of her babies, don’t mess with Mama.
In time, the goslings mature into “Mini-Me” versions of their parents. They take flight and become little protégées – learning how to find their own food and lead independent lives.
Jeff and I once saw a baby bear on a winding mountain road. He was enjoying the last drops of ice cream from a Dairy Queen treat which had been thrown out someone’s window. Cute as a button, he had his snout deep in that turned-upside-down cup. I told Jeff to pull over so I could snap some pictures, but he advised against it. If the mama bear is around, he said, we might end up being her treat. Black bears aren’t aggressive unless you give them a reason to be. And as nature has it, protecting her cubs is a very good reason.
The white-tailed deer in our neighborhoods seem very tame and unconcerned, yet they still observe their instinctual behavior. In the spring, does hide their fawns in the tall grasses to protect them, leaving them behind while they venture out for food. When she’s with her offspring, a doe keeps careful watch. Threaten to cross her protective boundary and she’s likely to snort and scratch her hooves across the ground. Go further and she might just charge. Yep. She can go from Bambi to “Deerzilla” in the blink of an eye.
Domestic animals display the same motherly characteristics. When ready to deliver their litters, mama cats will find the perfect off-traffic location – usually under someone’s bed. They gather the tiny closed-eye babies to bathe and feed them. Even when the feminine feline has to leave the litter, she doesn’t stay away too long. And upon her return, if she suspicions any trouble at all, she’ll move those little kittens one by one to a new nesting place.
I love observing animal behavior when it comes to family life. Throughout spring and summer seasons, I delight in watching the babies mature and can certainly relate to their growing experiences under the care of their mothers.
Growing up in Bridgeport, my mom guided, taught and protected my sister and me. She made sure we got to Simpson School safely. Sometimes our dog, Wilbur, followed us there. I wonder if Mom sent him on purpose. On occasion, we met her for lunch at the Virginian Restaurant or at her workplace, Bridgeport Bank. She would wait for us to cross the walk bridge to Main Street, then make sure our bellies were full before returning us to our afternoon classes. She showed us important life skills, like gardening, cooking and sewing. She would even take us with her to J. Eddie’s to pick out patterns and fabric – and usually a sweet treat. She encouraged us to nurture our interests and be individuals. And, yes, she protected – whether it was a physical or emotional threat. And with little girls, it’s often the latter.
How fortunate we all are to have been under the careful eye and protective wing of our moms.
Editor's note: I took the above photo at Hinkle & Deegan Lakes, delighted to meet one of the season's brand new famlies. What I wrote above is quite true. In getting close enough to capture a digital of these goslings, I was hissed at by their Mama (or maybe it was the Daddy. I'm nore sure). Anyway, he or she escorted me back on the walking trail - where I belonged. I look forward to visits to the Lakes throughout the spring and summer to watch these babies grow!