When the class separated and explored the lagoon and lagoon peninsula area of the campus I kept to myself and started to forge ahead of the group. I passed small pools of lagoon runoff with various insects floating across the surface. For me, these creatures were too small and fragile to attempt any deeper collaboration than to simply watch them in their search for food and mates. I passed a wet marshy area with seemingly hundreds of croaking frogs but they remained out of sight even upon closer inspection. They were definitely the attention seekers of the animals I encountered today. I guess springtime brings out the best in our animal friends. I wanted direct interaction with wildlife so I hiked up onto the lagoon peninsula/island (not sure what the correct terminology is) and kept mostly to the trails.
I had not been on this part of campus for at least three and a half years. It was mostly foreign to me, but it also presented a fresh perspective of a place I considered myself so familiar with. I can see why people like to run these trails. It’s free of all the people like me who forget they exist. Anyway, I climbed up the side of the bluffs and crouched underneath a tree to look out onto the ocean. “This is nice spot,” I thought, but I didn’t see any signs of life other than the visitors and young lovebirds strolling the length of the beach below. I then encountered, as I continued down the path, the “infamous” labyrinth made up circular patterns of stones and a commemorative plaque with Papyrus as its typeface. I started to walk the path but then got discouraged as it wasn’t helping me towards my goal, finding an animal friend for the day. I read the plaque as I left the area and apparently it takes several hours to complete the path at a walking pace. I’m glad I didn’t invest that much time as I had places to go later that evening. Just as I stepped away from the plaque, the king of chubby ground squirrels greeted me at my feet. I stood still as he was simply sniffing the surrounding air keeping an eye for sudden motion. With a slow crouching motion I pulled my camera from my pocket and took a series of photos of his inquisitive stance. Being extremely curious I tried to shuffle forwards and CGS (chubby ground squirrel) leapt into his hole in the shrubbery. Now sad and lonely once again, I kept walking down the path and heard a rustle in the bush to my right. There sat CGS, still investigating me for the good of his community. Though, like before, he scurried out of sight as I tried to get closer in my attempt to make physical contact.
The rest of the walk—lengthened by my unfamiliarity with the area—was joyful. I encountered many more sounds in the tall grasses but never again saw CGS. I assume that he gathered as much information as he needed to brief the rest of his group on the large, gentle creature roaming their territory. It’s worth noting that CGS never became aggressive or showed his teeth, which is apparently a characteristic of squirrels being territorially protective. The last interesting discoveries were two bird houses: one in the trees and one on the ground simply propped up next to its tree. No animals were present in these locations during my exploration.