To the editor:
I was out at the Wakarusa wetlands a few weeks ago and noticed a group of coots swimming and feeding. By that I mean American coots — black, duck-like birds with white bills — not “old coots” — geezers who write cranky letters to the editor. Anyway, just passing the time of day, I asked them their impression of the wetlands. They don’t live here full time but often pass through and make extended stays.
They said the food is excellent and they find the water and vegetation much to their liking. They have been coming here for many generations, they said. I mentioned that KDOT and developers point out that all this once was just plain farmland. The coots were amazed. “Maybe so, but that must have been a long time ago,” they replied.
My children walked through the wetlands. They now are grown and have children of their own, and those children have walked the trails and pathways of the wetlands. Our children remember this as wetlands and so do generations of people before them. Nature has a way of changing slowly over time. People have a way of changing nature, often rapidly and violently.
I warned the coots that some people want to put a super highway right over where they were swimming. They laughed at that, simply didn’t believe me. “Even humans aren’t that destructive,” they said. I guess both coots and people try to ignore bad times coming. I don’t know what coots could do about it anyway.