Life finds a way

Published 12:18 pm Tuesday, November 7, 2023

This past weekend, instead of in the woods camping or sitting in a deer stand, I was waiting in lines in Florida. A few years ago we flippantly told our daughter that when she was tall enough for all the rides at Universal Studios, we could take a trip. It turns out, she remembered that and held us to our word when she finally measured 52 inches tall. So, we planned a trip down south to ride a brand-new roller coaster called the Velocicoaster.

Part velociraptor, part rollercoaster, this machine made everyone scream who buckled down the lap restraint. Inspired by the Jurassic Park series, the line (long most of the time) gave plenty of time to reminisce on the original movie that is now 30 years old. One of my favorite lines is when one of the characters says, “Life finds a way.”

This character observed that whenever we try to limit nature, life finds a way to exist and grow in synthetic surroundings. Walking through a concrete jungle with chlorinated waterways, a theme park seemed to be a place where nature would have a hard time finding its way. To my delight, life was finding a way in spite of the development.

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The first morning, I walked outside of our hotel to bring some coffee back to the room. The manmade lake and canal connecting our hotel to the parks turned red to mirror the sunrise on the horizon. I leaned on the railing to admire the view and whistling wings buzzed my head as two ducks swooped down and splashed in front of me.

If I had closed my eyes, I would have guessed that I was in a South Carolina duck swamp. The reality though consisted of dyed blue water in a manmade lake surrounded by buildings and concrete. Regardless, these ducks seemed content to eat fish in the water and crumbs dropped by mouse-ear-wearing toddlers.

Inside the park, besides pigeons, wildlife disappeared at first glance. I assume that the park spends a good amount of money to mitigate risks posed by wildlife. It would not be good press to have a news story entitled, “Thrill Riders Collide with Flock of Chickadees while on the Velocicoaster.”

Regardless, ground-dwelling creatures could find a space to live a happy life inside the park. Squirrels seemed to thrive as long as they kept clear of the patrons. They seemed to be part of the cleanup crew in concession areas, only showing up at a table once everyone had left.

On our last day, we waited on a concrete dock over a manmade dyed-blue lake and looked at the water. To my surprise, some of the fattest bluegill I have seen in some time were resting in the shade of the pylons. 

“Whoah!!! Look at those things!” gasped my son who knows a thing or two about bluegill. 

We watched the fish for a few minutes with smiles and discussed strategies for sneaking a fishing rod into the park. These fish had found a way to thrive in this unnatural environment, and thankfully, my kids could appreciate the natural world after being submerged in a synthetic one. It seems that “Life finds a way.”