I am not a natural naturalist. I have occasional wannabe bushcraft tendencies but my skills are so limited and my time to improve them gets allocated to other activities. I have a much loved copy of Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Nature and Tracking for Children and feel humbled when I read lines such as “Tracking is the ultimate extension of awareness.”
A few weeks ago I was in Glasgow and walking along Bath Street back to my car. It’s a typical Glasgow city centre street scene.
I realised that I spend a lot of my time with my head down when I’m walking with a purpose. That’s when I had one of those “divine aha!” moments. Tom Brown tells his readers that:
“Teaching children to track is like teaching children to read a book. The individual tracks are letters, and the trails form words, sentences and paragraphs. Once children have learned to read the basics, the earth is no longer looked upon as just soil, but as an open book or journal.”
Half way up my walk, it dawned on me that I may not be able to tell a fox from a dog print (yet!) but I could work out the story of the ground I was treading. Firstly I came across a pigeon going for a stroll along the street.
By the bus stop there was a lot of gum on the ground. This often seems to be the case. Gum is dropped when people are hanging around.
A bird had lost a feather which had got trapped on this fence. I think it could belong to a pigeon.
A bird had definitely been passing by here. Again my guess, from its size was this was the pigeon again.
I reckon that this mark was made by someone who had a curry after too much alcohol because spicy food will cause stains.
I did have a couple mysteries to solve. Several lamp posts had string at the foot of them. Bizarre!
And I’ve yet to see the three-legged man who made this print in the concrete…
Perhaps, in my own strange way, I can read the signs and tracks around me after all. Now I need to get my head up and start cloud watching…