Monday, October 15, 2007

Peace in the Quiet Things

Jim Pawlicki shares his essay in memory of Tim Horst. I appreciate you sharing this, Jim, it was great to hear it read on Saturday. Jim captures many aspects of Tim's personality that are hard for me to describe. I just wish I had the time to know Tim better.

If I could describe Tim in one word, it would be kind. He was a kind person that was open to anybody and anything it seemed, and whenever I seen him, he always kept his composure no matter what the circumstances. Not once, ever, did I see him get mad. He did tell me once about a personal experience when he did get angry, but frankly, I could never believe it because he just was not a person that I could picture as such. His knowledge on all of the local wildlife and plants was amazing. He could I.D. trees at a distance like birds, and knew all of the wildflowers, shrubs, and grasses as well. I remember the many times he came to pick me up and drop me off from Iroquois Observations outings, and pointed out the "ginko beloba" and "dawn redwood" on Sundown Rd. -- trees with such history and beauty that I never knew existed. Whenever I asked him about trees or plants, he always had an answer. He especially liked, and talked most about waterfowl, especially Wood Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, and American Wigeon.

One of his fondest birding experiences he has described to me was seeing two Black-necked Stilts on Cattaraugus Creek near the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation while fishing -- he described most how they were agitated, and kept calling a loud and unforgettable "yhat yhat yhat yhat..." while flying around showing their bright pink legs. Another was the Northern Parulas that nested along the creek near his house in Clarence. He described how one day he happened upon their tiny, Oriole-like hanging nest in a hawthorne tree over the creek and would often watch the male come to the nest and feed the female.

One of my fondest birding experiences with Tim was a trip to Dunkirk Harbor in Februrary. We went to the harbor to try to see the Ross's Goose and ducks that had been reported recently. We were out on the main pier for some time, and met a local bird-watcher/fishermen and his two daughters, and talked to him some bit about the ducks we were seeing. He went on his way, and we eventually decided to head over to nearby Point Gratiot and look around there for the Ross's Goose. When we got there, we noticed the same guy from the main pier, this time looking at the geese on the other side of the fence towards the power plant. We started talking to him again, mentioning the Ross's Goose, and something came up about one being seen before at Chautauqua Lake and that it was shot by a hunter. The guy then goes "Yeah, I was the one who shot it." We all had a good laugh after that, and Tim and I couldn't really believe it...quite a coincidence talking to the guy who shot Chautauqua County’s first Ross's Goose while looking for a Ross's Goose in Chautauqua County. We then decided that since we were in the area, we would try to see the Snowy Owl that had been seen recently in nearby Stockton. We arrived at the spot, and sure enough, there it was sitting on a telephone pole right next to the road. It was a gorgeous bird, with small bits of dark spotting throughout the white plumage. We watched it for close to twenty minutes as it calmly sat on the telephone pole and made several hunting forays to the nearby field.

Tim was also very knowledgeable and aware of other aspects of life, and we often discussed movies, sometimes sports, the pressures of life, and of course women. This is what made him such a well-rounded person, while at the same time, being very close to nature and wildlife, unlike any other person I have known. There was very little we discussed and disagreed on. To me, Tim symbolized almost a Native American-like person (and although he admitted he looked like a bit like a Native American - he told me did not really have any in him) who was able to cope with whatever came in his path; this coupled with his passion for hunting, fishing, plants, art, music, and birds, and also his story-telling, are all what made him an amazing friend. I am honored to have been able to know and learn from him. Every time I step up on the Cayuga Pool platform I think of Tim, and how he seemed very at home there, talking with many of the visitors. There are many fond moments from that platform, all equal and too numerous to describe. When he talked sometimes he did so almost as if he knew his time on earth was limited, and would sometimes joke about it as such, but he never wanted to hurt his family and friends, and that was his way of coping with it and getting around some of life’s personal stresses. He has not gone; he is still with us. His knowledge, passion, and kindness will be with us forever; what he has taught me not only about wildlife, but also life, will never be forgotten.

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