Setting up Barbara's list of 100 plants and animals identified in her neighborhood was such a pleasure that I had to think a bit about why I enjoyed it so.

For one thing, I appreciate with Barbara's recognition that we humans are members of the Animal Kingdom, and thus very definitely enmeshed in Nature's web of life. "Aside from humans, in which I’m intensely interested, I can’t pick 5 most interesting organisms," she says.

She also shares my opinion that when you get to know just about any natural thing, even a Coyote, you can't help but to admire it, at least a little.

More important, though, is that her good-natured, insightful rambling reinforces one of my core beliefs: That if you fill your head with observations about the lives of neighboring plants and animals -- like the Yaupon Holly, Hispid Pocket Mice and Leaf-cutter Ants in Barbara's case -- a mature, gratifying understanding of life-in-general automatically blossoms.

Our ancestors' intimacies with the seasons and their daily need to identify with and flow with Nature's general currents imprinted them with insights more profound and powerful than it would seem their level of technology would have permitted. Remember the amazing understandings of the ancient Greeks and Chinese.

Modern people no longer benefit from such an immediate, personal relationship with nature, but, in exchange, we do have the means for learning very much about our neighboring organisms, by using books and the Internet. The understandings our ancestors derived from personal experience, we can now access with technology.

Barbara's list, and her manner of presenting it, encourage me to keep thinking that people who sensitize themselves to the living world around them live enriched lives, and understand reality-in-general better than others.

And from that belief arises the hope that once people understand better, admire more, and even love the living ecosystem in which they are enmeshed, they'll grow less likely to continue destroying it.