Have you ever stopped to take a close look at the seeds on the cone inside of a Mexican Hat flower? Or the amazing colors in a Strawberry Pitaya cactus patch? Look through a mini-microscope and you can see all kinds of little hooks in between each vein of a bird feather. They act like Velcro when a bird needs to “zip” its feathers back together after the tearing they get flying through our Thorn Forest. There are an unlimited number of focal points in nature, all with one thing in common: You have to stop what you are doing … and notice them.
Which is what we need to do occasionally to see this “focal point” in nature: human volunteerism. For the past year, every month, every day, our community has gotten up in the morning, and instead of doing something for themselves, went out of their way to contribute their time and energy to the Earth. They are a brigade of caregivers without whom no nature park in the Valley could sustain itself. They are as diverse as the animal and plant life they tend, coming from families, scout groups, schools, and businesses. In total, last year, nearly 3,000 people came to volunteer at Quinta Mazatlán World Birding Center.
“Volunteers contribute in so many different ways,” said Colleen Hook, the director at Quinta Mazatlán. “People help with photography, education, administrative support, special events, public relations, tree maintenance, and trails.” Without volunteers, our wildflowers would not have been collected and spread. Without volunteers, the beauty inside a Strawberry Pitaya cactus may have gone unnoticed. Without volunteers, birds might not have the Thorn Forest habitat they fly through that unzips their feathers.
According to one university student taking a break from volunteering recently, “I never spent much time in nature when I was growing up. But I love being here. I just want to keep coming back.” It is worth stopping what you are doing to focus on the face of someone who just spent the morning pulling weeds in a nature park. Because what you see on that face is pure, clear, and simple: human happiness.
And perhaps that is the most amazing focal point ever to be seen in nature.