Cambrian: Opinion

Even Mother Nature struggles with New Year’s resolutions in Cambria’s backcountry

A deer reaches for fresh fruit on Cambrian columnist Marcia Rhoades’ backcountry Cambria property.
A deer reaches for fresh fruit on Cambrian columnist Marcia Rhoades’ backcountry Cambria property.

Almost two weeks into 2019, it’s probably time to reflect on the tradition of making resolutions for the New Year. It’s usually about now that observable cracks begin to appear in all of our good intentions.

Even though we live in the Santa Lucia Mountains in Cambria’s backcountry, rather than in town, resolutions seem to be pretty universal — watch the diet, exercise more, be nicer to the people who drive us nuts and clean the oven more often. I don’t know about you, but I’ve made the same promises to myself at the beginning of every year since about 1970 with limited success, especially where the oven is concerned.

So, what’s a person to do? I know. Start pointing fingers at others who are not living up to their New Year’s resolutions and forget about our own shortcomings.

Way out here in the wilderness, Mother Nature makes a great scapegoat. Let’s start with the deer. I am pretty certain that their hearts are in the right place. You cannot look into those big brown eyes and not see goodness. However, every spring, they nibble as much of the new growth off our native and non-native plants as they can reach, in spite of the fact that I’m sure on New Year’s Day they make a vow not to — in the interest of being good neighbors and all.

Let us not forget the gophers, who I know have promised themselves not to endanger our house by eternally tunneling under it, the wood rats who have undoubtedly resolved not to ruin our vehicles by building nests under the hoods, and the birds who have committed to leaving us some of the soft-skinned fruit in our orchard that John tends with such loving care.

I know they are all inherently good little creatures who want to coexist with us in peace and harmony. I know they are trying very hard to keep their individual resolutions, but we know they will fail, just as we do.

Clearly, there’s enough resolution blame to go around.

However, when we’re dealing with human nature and Mother Nature, we’re going to have to go easy because it’s nearly impossible to deny our instincts. Anyone who loves cookies knows they fall under the category of instinctual binge snacking. Anyone who has seen deer at work or play knows that eating everything in their path is instinct. If anyone has found a way to keep deer from eating their award-winning roses, please let me know.

In the meantime, keep making your New Year’s resolutions, if you must, but don’t beat yourself up when you find the uphill battle too daunting. As with everything else in life, all any of us can do is our best. No one can ask more, even two weeks after the start of a New Year.

Mountain Musings is special to The Cambrian. Email Marcia Rhoades at