I feel like I cannot write today. What is it about this time of year that creates such distraction? I can't even do my work without a constant beratement of "reminders" that pop on my computer screen. How are we supposed to have any focus if everything around us is vying for our attention. Honestly, it's ridiculous. No wonder people run away on vacations that they can't afford, or head out to the woods where everything that is virtual disappears. In nature all that stuff disappears. In the barn with the horses, it all disappears as well. I love that. Where is your go to place? Do you have one?
When I was a little girl, I spent an enormous amount of time outside. You might have thought I was Mowgli, right out of the Jungle Book - as a little girl. I stayed in trees for hours until my butt went numb. The concept of shoes did not make any sense to me. I would lay on the ground next to the stream and watch the water bugs skate across the surface and the birds fly up above. I have so many memories of running away only to be embraced by nature and the creatures of the woods. Deer, raccoons, possums, and rabbits all came into my space as if I weren't there at all. Somehow, I had this ability to blend into the environment so I was not noticed. I often wonder if I was completely noticed and didn't create any concern for these wild creatures.
One of my favorite encounters with wildlife was just a couple of years ago at a pond in the early morning hours right before Thanksgiving. I was curious if I could see the beaver that had built their dam in this stream that was truly rerouting the entire body of water. I wanted to get a look at these worker bees with leathered tails and enormous work ethics. This was all about one hundred yards away from our home in the Appalachian Mountains near Deep Creek Lake. How could such a small animal create such a massive change in the environment?
I walked along the pond and quietly stood, looking out at the dam through the fog of an glorious mountain morning. The pond was truly magnificent, about an acre in size. Just six months ago, it hadn't existed. I stood like a statue scanning the edges of the dam and around the perimeter of the pond for any type of movement. My eyes slowly wrapped around the edges where grasses grew higher and the banks were soft until I got right in front of me.
I blinked because I couldn't believe my eyes. Right in front of me was a little beaver. I could have reached out and touched it! It was smaller than I thought it would be. Its hair looked so soft and cuddly. As if he were a living stuffed animal. I saw his leathery paddle of a tail jutting out from his body. This adorable creature was cleaning its face and paws. Just a little personal grooming session all while perched about two feet away from me. How this creature swam up to the side of the pond at the moment I was standing there like a statue, I will never know. I do know, these encounters with wildlife have always been such gifts. There are also a multitude of times where I have been walking in the woods and seen nothing at all but the birds flying above me or a lone call of a coyote or crow. Each and every time I make it out to the wild I breathe deep and know that we are all here to enjoy it, protect it, and continue to be connected to it in more ways than we could ever imagine. There's no need to deny our love for landscapes and nature. There's no need to keep our soul away from this beauty that is out there for us to be a part of.
Today my son and daughter and I went to the edge of the pasture to pull a tree off the fence that had fallen in the last snow storm. We walked silently on the melting snow that muffled our footsteps. The sun was shining and for some reason, the temperature was mild, almost 44 degrees. For late November, that is truly a gift in Northern Michigan. I walked with them and beamed from the inside. My children, 23 and soon to be 18 headed out to help their mom with a rogue tree. I can't imagine any better way to spend Thanksgiving than a nice meal, a good walk in the woods, and our kids throwing snow balls at each other, laughing and enjoying the wild like they once did when they were little, like I always have ever since I could remember. If we have but just this day, I hope everyone remembers that wherever you find yourself, find the wild within. Have faith in your guiding light, your spark of creativity that is so incredibly unique. You are literally the only one in the universe that thinks like you, acts like you, and loves like you. On this day, keep it real, keep it honest, and as my dad always used to say, take it easy....