Everything we think we know is in a book.Christmas brought me a book store gift card, and I had half of one left over from last year, and now I’ve got three new books and $4 remaining on one gift card. The young woman who tallied my purchase said I could use the money in the snack bar. She didn’t mention, but I’m pretty certain, there is about enough on the card for one cup of coffee.

“Natural Encounters,” ís a book of places to experience the natural world from Maine to Ohio to Florida; “Our Wild Calling,” is about connecting with animals; and “The Hidden Life of Trees,” tells of trees living in families and talking with each other over dinner.

I hear the sound of fingers on a chalkboard when anyone talks as though we humans are not part of the “natural world.” There are many differences that set us apart from the rest of the critters who live here, but there also are many commonalities.

When we are cold, we put on warm clothing. Deer, dogs and most other warm-blooded animals shed their winter coat in spring and spend the next six to nine months growing a new one, rather than shop at Burlington. But we are not alone in teaching our young to feed themselves, and mourning when a family member dies.

Like the other wild ones, we notice when someone new moves into our neighborhood. We pay close attention to what they bring with them, how many kids they’ve got and whether they walk or drive a car – or cars – to go places. Often, we slip closer to their cave, in part to see whether they respond in a friendly manner or indicate they would consider making us the main course for dinner.

Eventually, we get used to them. Maybe we become friends, but most likely we just quietly agree to let each other share the road that goes by each of our abodes.

When I arrived in California to begin three years of a Navy assignment, one of my new coworkers told me people there were unfriendly. He said he had lived in the same apartment complex almost three years and had never met his next-door neighbor. I wondered why he hadn’t knocked on his neighbor’s door.

Even trees, human researchers are learning, know which of their kind comprise their communities, and which are interlopers. They communicate with each other and feed each other and support their young. What they do not do is move quickly, which fellow students of hobbit lore will remember is how they came to be trees in the first place.

Books were how I travelled the world before I was old enough to visit many of the places, and meet many of the people, I read about. It was on those travels that I got into photography, though it would be years before I would realize its greatest value would be helping me see details I likely would otherwise have wandered past.

Something I’ve learned about we inhabitants of this spaceship we’re riding in endless elliptical paths through the heavens – we have a ubiquitous urge to share the companionship of our species at the end of our day’s endeavor. It is a universal desire, whether we built huge mountainous ant hills or smaller, relatively, wood and plasterboard structures with lots of unnaturally straight lines.

Straight lines do not occur in nature. I read that in a book. It is a factoid I have searched, so far without success, to disprove.

Except along the edge of a bookstore gift card carried, in a very un-straight line, to the snack bar.

Thanks for coming along. I hope you enjoyed the ride. Comments are welcome, and please feel free to share. Click the “Share” button to share it on social media, or copy the URL and send it to friends and acquaintances you think might appreciate it.