Life, Death And Bucket Lists

Death is not something I face every day, but it’s been in the front of my mind lately. One of our cats recently died. While talking it out with our kids, my wife casually said “Everything dies.” This was a revolution to my four-year-old. His jaw dropped open. His eyes got wide and wild. He sobbed “You mean I’m gonna die? I don’t want to die!”

I’m sure he pictured himself laid out on a towel in the backyard while we dug a hole next to his cold still body. He doesn’t have a lot of experience with death yet. For that matter, he doesn’t have much experience with life.

Life is what this article is really about. If my son has taught me anything, it is to seize the moment with joyful abandon. Why walk down stairs when you can slide down them on your belly? (I did try that. It’s actually pretty fun.) Why walk down the street when you can run, jump in puddles, hide behind trees and swing from low hanging branches along the way?

Life is for living. It is too easy to get stuck in a routine where you go through each day by only existing, not living. Before you know it, a whole year has gone by without a single opportunity to really live.

I swim at the Y most mornings before going in to work at Audubon. There is a sign as you leave that says “Don’t forget to be awesome!”

Those are good words to live by, and I’m excited that Audubon is offering a way to help you break up your everyday world to do things that are totally awesome.

Here’s a short list of some awesome things you can do: Hold a wild owl. Watch elk with enormous antlers battle back and forth through a field. Walk on ground that floats on the water and feels like walking on Jell-O.

Audubon’s naturalists have been putting together a list of amazing local natural events that you should see before you die.

A bucket list (if you don’t know) is a list of things you should see before you “kick the bucket”. So the Audubon crew has put together a Bucket List Calendar for 2014 with something awesome that you can see each month.

Every month in the calendar has a once in a lifetime opportunity to see something amazing. If the photo is of a bull elk bugling, there will be a program so that you can journey into Central Pennsylvania and see the elk. If the photo is of a snipe, we’ll make sure you get to go on a snipe hunt that month. Have you ever seen 40,000 Purple Martins flying into a roost? If not, we’ll make sure you do!

The calendar is also full of natural events that happen every year. It says when the warbler migration is at its peak, when the Tundra Swans migrate through the area and when to put out and pull in bird feeders.

The Bucket List Calendar is a great way to get more in tune with what is happening in the natural world and a fun way to try some new things. I mentioned some of the things in the calendar to a dedicated Auduboner that I ran into the other day. She immediately set out and did one of the things in the Bucket List calendar, saying “I can’t believe I have lived here my whole life and never gone to see this”. That’s what the calendar is about: providing amazing opportunities to bring more awesomeness to your life.

These calendars make great holiday gifts, but are also a fundraiser for Audubon. The profits from the calendars support the programs, trails and buildings at Audubon. Calendars cost $20, but only $18 for Friends of the Nature Center. If you can’t (or don’t want to) pick it up at the Center, shipping is an additional $5 per calendar and we will send them anywhere in the United States.

Calendars must be pre-ordered with payment before Dec. 1, 2013. They can be ordered by calling 569-2345 or visiting www.jamestownaudubon.org and looking in the sidebar under fundraisers.

Jeff Tome is a naturalist at the Jamestown Audubon Society who has yet to do everything in the Audubon Bucket List Calendar. The Audubon Center & Sanctuary is located at 1600 Riverside Road, just off Route 62 between Jamestown and Warren. For more information on Audubon and their programs, visit www.jamestownaudubon.org/.