The big attraction is the bald eagles who have returned to their nest in the gigantic pine tree near the river. People come from all over to peek at the couple as they take turns sitting on the nest. While one sits, the other roosts on the branch nearby or fishes from the Mississippi River. Perhaps we see ourselves in the nesting habits of the birds. We look for affirmation of home-making and relationship building in the behavior of other species.
The koi swim as a couple, touching fins and keeping within each other’s current. When I move them from their winter aquarium in the basement to their summer pond, they frantically swim and sway to touch and find the other in the new environ. Each morning, when I go to feed them, one follows the other within a fin’s distance to ascend and pull a pellet from the surface of the water.
When one cat comes in the door, the other is there to greet her nose to nose and give a few short licks on her furry face. The cats must reacquaint with each other again before they can peacefully share the space of our home. These are all examples of how couples keep track of each other in the animal world. Similarly, we humans also need to touch, first with eye contact and then a handshake or kiss of familiarity and endearment. This first when we come in the door after a long day of work or childcare, before the problems of the day are laid out for solving. The need to touch is what makes us human and what defines us as animals.