Food, water, shelter, space
Everybody’s gotta have a place
Talkin’ ’bout habitat, habitat
Oh, habi-habitat

So went the catchy song learned on a field trip with my kids to an Indiana state park years ago. The naturalist explained to us the four elements of a habitat, the word we use to describe where an animal lives (and can live). It has been on my mind the past few days because I have been habitat hunting myself.

I now have a deeper appreciation for animals in captivity. I enjoy a good zoo, where the effort is made to place the occupants in natural looking surroundings, but I am currently in such a setting as we are temporarily living in someone else’s house. They are on vacation and we are house sitting, which works out well for our needs at the moment, but it is an artificial habitat.

An observer may look through the window, see me on the couch typing on my laptop, and think that I belong, but I don’t. This is not my house. I am not surrounded by my stuff. There are bookshelves, but the books are wrong. There is a kitchen, but the pots, pans, and plates are wrong.

Such considerations play a part in our habitat hunt. We have looked at several habitats in the past few days—call them rental properties if you like—and after leaving each one, my wife and I discuss the pros and cons. We think we found an agreeable one yesterday, so now we wait to see if the property manager finds our credit and background check agreeable.

A large part of what made us choose this one is its habitat. Where we are house sitting is nice, but it is not us. To a casual observer driving by both locations, the differences may not be immediately obvious. Both are fairly recent construction in suburban settings. The cars parked outside on both streets belie similar economic status of occupants.

I won’t bore you with the intricacies of the preferred habitat of this particular blogger and his editor, but they exist, and I suspect you have some as well. You may not realize it unless you find yourself transplanted to a new area and seeking your own habitat. I have several friends also in the midst of being uprooted and replanted. We understand each other.

Now, as we await final approval, what we really want is our stuff to fill our habitat. We think we have the shelter down, now to fill the space. Most animals are minimalist interior decorators. Humans, given an option, are not. We’ve already started talking about what we think might be placed in each room, what we think we are done with, and what few things we would like to replace.

Fortunately, food and water are not large concerns. Running potable water is a given. Food is easily accessible. Maybe a bit too accessible. I am thankful things are coming together, but I am eager for the day when the boxes have arrived and been emptied, when I can sit on my own chair and look at my own books on their shelves. I am a creature of habit at home, and I long for that habitat once again.


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