Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The story behind the animal tracks

So I really started getting into animal tracks and tracking when I moved to New Hampshire. I wouldn't say I'm a tracker or anything remotely like that - but I do like trying to use a bit of detective work to figure out who has been around.

When I lived in New Hampshire, I volunteered at Squam Lakes Natural Science center. I became a docent and just loved the training and learnt so much. I then went on to help in the development department with their capital campaign. It is just a wonderful place and if you are ever anywhere nearby, you have to go and visit it - whatever your age. It made such an impact on me - and I wish I still lived close by.

Anyhow, we were new to the USA at the time and I just got interested in all the different animals that we didn't have in England. Opossums playing dead, skunks smelling the roads - ugh, bobcats, bears hiding behind trees, flying squirrels...... - it was all so new and fascinating.

But my most loved of all was the porcupine. Ah - I definitely have a soft spot for the porcupine. As a docent, my favourite prop was to take the giant porcupine quill model out on the trail, plus some real quills and explain about porcupines and how they live. I encouraged the kids - and adults - to feel the barbs and would tell the story of a man who had a quill go inside him and travel through is body and then get caught on his shirt one day as it was making it's way back out again! Sorry - too long a story to go into the details here....you'll have to ask me some other time.

Then, the whole time I lived in NH, every single time I went outside, I couldn't take my eyes off the trees, looking for porcupines. I was constantly searching. They are so pretty. We had one porcupine at the Science Center who had been injured and was like an 'ambassador' - teaching children and adults about the species. I always loved to watch when they did a porcupine presentation.

But my whole time in NH, the only porcupine I ever saw - apart from the Science center one - was a road-kill porcupine :-(. I did however make my husband stop when I saw it dead on the road and I got out of the car and went to have a look :=D

While I was working on the capital campaign to raise money for the Science Center, I was involved in creating and designing a brochure for the campaign. The Center is a wonderful educational place and in everything they send out, they like it to have some educational component. So I worked on coming up with a design that would tell what the campaign was about, why we should raise money, why the person should donate and also had some educational component to it. The brochure turned out to depict pathway along the different pages - and on each page, I put in a different set of animal tracks/footprints...that followed on with subsequent pages. Like my bracelet, the reader had to try and guess which animal created the footprint. It added a fun and entertaining, yet educational element to a document asking for donations.

Anyhow - the result is that we achieved our goal for the capital campaign - and maybe someone even checked out the prints and had a guess.

So ten years later, I had this idea for a foot print bracelet and the Science Center brochure connection didn't even occur until later! And yes, I still gaze up at trees and can't take my eyes of them, looking for porcupine when I go to areas where they may live. One day.....
And in the meantime, I look at the tracks the animals leave near our pond in the mud, I look at the scat and wonder who has been eating all our grapes.....I look at the bird tracks on the beach....and so, my interest continues......

Hope you'll enter the competition to guess the bracelet tracks and win your own track as a key ring or bookmark.


Easterya said...

What a great read!!! And this tiny porcupine baby is sooooo cute! This animal tracks idea is really neat, I really love it, Heaven only knows how you got the tracks so perfect... I bet you have a little army of tiny creatures who come alive at night and can step on the wet clay to leave their prints, like on Hollywood Boulevard :)

Ruth said...

Any yes. No animals were harmed in the creation of this bracelet!!! But with your thoughts of bears etc - maybe I would have been the one harmed!