Most people these days are fully aware of home security systems, alarms for cars, houses, mailboxes, businesses and so on. The more imbalance that exists the more alarm systems evolve and spread. The more fear grows the more people seek out alarm systems and security.
Within society is not the only place that alarm systems exist and flourish.
In the wild, or perhaps the term “nature” would be more fitting exists very complex and diverse alarm systems as well. No matter where we travel around the globe you will be able to find these natural alarm systems in place. These do not require fancy wiring, computer chips, lasers, infrared imagery, vibration meters, temperature sensors, DNA sensors, print and retina identifiers, voice recognition devices, or any other technologically advanced systems. All they require is what has been in place for millions of years- the ability to be aware of one’s surroundings.
Every natural place that contains wildlife of any kind will have a natural alarm system built into its natural mechanics. It does not matter whether you are in the tundra, jungles, grasslands, woodlands, deserts, or beach land. The way that natural alarm systems detect is very similar to the way technological ones function. They are specialized at detecting specific images, movements, pressure changes, temperature fluctuations, sound vibrations and so on. Different species of natural life have evolved to be able to hone in on very specific details in their environment that they are super sensitive to because of their awareness. This combined with the direct connection to awareness and survival make for a very well made teaching-learning atmosphere. Need creates the best student.
If you are walking through an eastern woodland you may hear blue jays squawking around you. In the tundra of the western United States the high pitched squeak of a pika may be set off as you near a certain mount of boulders. Down in the swampland of Florida you may hear a hush of insects when you walk by. These are examples of alarm calls or natural alarms found in the wild. Each environment has its own specific set of specialized alarmists. Of course, alarms are useless unless those who hear them can understand them and interoperate them. This is the other end of awareness. One must be aware enough to signal an alarm and the other must be aware enough to hear and understand the alarm.
Some examples of Natural Alarmists are as follows-
- The absence of noises- silence
I call the above- 1st level alarmists. This mean that they are normally the first ones to sound the alarm of potential danger and other species react in turn. Many people might think animals like the deer are alarmists, but in actuality they almost always react to another alarm that has already gone off and so they themselves are not alarmists. The same goes for the cat family. They are too quiet to be alarmists and many times they are the ones who set off alarms with such creatures as birds. Dogs of course alarm all the time but their wild kin do not. Coyotes, wolves, fox and so on do not alarm, but remain hidden and silent. If they do pick up and run from danger it is almost always because they herad and understood an alarm from the first level alarmists.
Birds are wonderful alarmists! I can sit in the forest near a trail and know when someone is coming my way on the trail about 10 minutes ahead of time. The birds recognize movements that do not flow naturally with the environment. The fact is that most humans who do not live with the wild have forgotten how to move naturally in the wild and so have taken on a more harsh method of moving. This not only disturbs the wildlife but also scares them because it is foreign. The birds pick up on this as soon as they see it and then sound out the alarm throughout the forest. Jays will take the alarm between 10-15 minutes ahead of the human who is walking along. Other birds sound their own alarms and they will vary in distance and intensity which depends upon the species and their habits. A junco is normally very quiet and so their form of alarm will be much different then the jays. It is quieter, not as noticeable and more localized. Their biggest alarm is silence.
Squirrels will yell and chatter for a long time when disturbed. This is their form of alarm. However, each species of squirrel will have its own alarm sequence. Grey Squirrels are very calm and quiet, so their alarm is more dramatic because they normally are not heard. The red squirrel on the other hand is prone to being very noisy and so their alarm is more difficult to make out amongst their normal state of yelling at anything they think might be disturbing them.
Insects will go quiet when you walk too near. If you have a friend walk along on a summer night and you sit still, you will hear the silence in the area they are walking because they set off the silence alarm. This is in contrast to the normal noise of the insect chorus that is non-stop all night long.
Frogs will listen by feeling for vibrations, which is also part of what many insects do. They can feel your footsteps and will squeak and dive into the water or mud for protection, thus sending out the alarm of an intruder.
The list goes on and on around the world. The fact is that all areas have natural alarms and to understand them we must become aware ourselves. We must learn to listen to the nuances of the natural sounds and rhythms. You cannot know the land if you do not understand the language of the creatures who live there. They speak of the land’s pulse and sing of its ways. The weasel knows very well the language of those creatures it shares that land with. It understands the alarms of all the creatures because if it is to eat it has to avoid setting off the many alarms around it as it hunts.
To really understand the natural alarm systems of the wild we must dicover the many layers of the system to be able to figure out what is first level and then see what is simply reacting to the original alarmists.
In my many workshops and courses I teach the ways of the land and how to become aware of it all. If you are ever interested in learning more deeply about these ways, the ways of the wild then check us out here in Vermont!
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