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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Knowing What You Like

The importance of knowing what you like cannot be overestimated. Bow, for one, knows exactly what he likes and by extension, what he does not like. He likes his yogurt thick and his corn sweet.

The yogurt I made came out so thick this week it was almost like a soft cheese. But Bow did not complain. He ate it all up.

On  the other hand, he refused the corn at lunch today without tasting it, because he could already tell it was not sweet, just by the smell.

How did Bow know? Is it right to judge what you like without even trying it? I think it's more natural to do so than we are led to believe. How do Monarch butterflies know what they like? Do they have to try it first?

This has been a bad year for milkweed, but a good year for Monarch butterflies. The milkweed didn't blossom in my pasture, and I did not get to see the Great Spangled Fritillary butterflies on the purple milkweed blossoms day after day, the way I did last year and the year before. But on the other hand, I've seen quite a few Monarchs in my pasture, and this one even let me get very close.

How did the Monarch know that it liked goldenrod flowers? Did it have to take a taste first?

I wonder about things like that as I watch the animals on my land. For instance, you know that book What Young Chimpanzee's Know about Seeing? Well, yesterday, I began to wonder what squirrels knew about seeing. This one squirrel was holding stock still on the back of a tree trunk, as if it hoped to remain invisible, but I could see it clearly, because we were on the same side of the tree.

"Is it hiding from me?" I wondered. But then as soon as it climbed down from the tree and came into the visual range of a nearby squirrel, that other squirrel started chasing it. Were they playing hide and seek? Had it been hiding from a conspecific, and not a human?

Two common buckeyes were locked in an embrace as I followed them around in the field.

How did they choose each other? There are so many common buckeyes, after all. That's why they are called "common". How did they make the selection? Was it love at first sight? Tough question.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with knowing what you like -- and what you don't like. For Bow, thick yogurt is something he knows he likes. Whether it's an acquired taste or a innate preference would be hard to say, even for Bow. But it's certainly not a result of trial and error. If he didn't like it, he wouldn't eat it. He would not even try.


  1. I think it makes the most sense to select the options we are drawn to. Sometimes humans do things out of politeness, but I actually think it is more kind of people do what their heart desires.

    1. I agree, Julia. Honesty is ultimately kinder than mere politeness. I wish all people could just do what their heart desires.