Monday, January 18, 2016

Sounds of the Forest

     Silence dominates the hills and valley today, despite the winter month and its lack of sound absorbing leaves on the hardwoods. The woods breathe gently as the wind chilled the 37 degree F air. I walk along the well trodden trail and spend nearly as much time off-trail exploring. An old barn door groans and opens with a painful shriek, and I scan the trees looking for the culprit. I stop and acknowledge the forest, and listened for yet another tree limb straining in the wind, fighting to stay put on such a quiet, uneventful day. My body feels that way at times and I can't help but smile. So much goes on in secret here, out of the public eye.
      I scan the ground and notice all the limbs, rotting leaves, and fallen trees. Each had its unique life story. The limbs may have held a robin's nest and helped in the nurturing of a mother's young. Perhaps for generations. The leaf was nourishment for a small creature of the forest, and housed a butterfly that needed a place of rest along its journey. The tree, once standing tall and majestic, has seen many events without having to take a single step or fly into the clouds. And the end of life, that final breath before crashing down. That would have been quite a sight.
     A gentleman roams the trails with his dog. A look of happiness on their faces, and a genuine smile that I could sense in his voice. They are the only others I saw today, unless you count the chipmunk, deer, and geese. 
     Spending time surrounded by nature, far enough away that road noise is non soothes the mind and spirit. I forget at times where I belong; nature holds a calling for me that helps forget the strains of life. I'm glad nature is still willing to share its time, considering how we've treated it.

Friday, January 1, 2016


Sunday morning in the Tennessee Mountains, and the sky is blue and full of freshness. I sit on the back porch sipping coffee, and I look beyond the porch railing and spot a cardinal, its red colors standing out like a lit ornament. He’s set against an opaque backdrop that is easily discernible through the thick debris, without the foliage of summer. Nothing to capture it with but words; my camera is inside.

 Some things are best captured with prose, without the leading and distractions of imagery. A picture can lead its audience in a direction that misses the point entirely. Sometimes the point is one a lonely soul needs. 

He drops out of site for a moment, probably getting me used to him being away. “I am still here,” he says, “watching over you.” I can hear his sweet song.  Not a warning call, but a calming tune that will comfort me the remainder of the day.

I am reminded that my birthday passed by a few days back. No recovering my lost day in the woods. My back issues are not yet healed. I look forward to a yearly hike on my birthday, in the stillness and quiet of the forest. Another is on the way, still in the distance, barely a seedling at this point. With hours of preparation in between. His message is to prepare now for what awaits later; don’t miss an opportunity. 

My cardinal is such a beauty. Earlier this morning I heard his call of warnings when I stepped outside. Didn’t see any visible signs but words can do the job. Why warnings before the calm? Now he basks in peace and beauty.

He steps away for a moment, and now an unexpected breeze flows, out of character with the still morning. It rattles leaves and stirs the air.

The cardinal made me think of a friend’s mom. The friend’s comment a week back, that a visit from a red cardinal signifies a visit from a loved one from heaven. Her wonderful mother passed away recently, after a life full of treasures placed upon those she knew. She couldn’t linger forever in person, and it would not have been fair of her to do so. We must step up and make our own memorial.

Some people leave their indelible touch on us, with a reminder of them everywhere we look. A lift of the spirit, of our faith. Memories. Talking about them is time well spent, for it renews lessons that are worth reliving. It helps to unlock their secrets that were in front of us all along.

A tree is now fallen on a steeply pitched hill below the deck I stand on; I visualize a family of squirrels darting in and out, it being the shelter when raising their young. Now it’s nourishment for the ground it fed, yet it serves as a reminder when I look at the rotting tree, now in pieces on the ground, and host to a nice array of greens, reds, and yellows that cling to its shell. I envision the images I captured of this tree with my camera almost ten years back. The next generation won’t see this tree as more than what once was; something of the past with nothing left to offer. This puts such a burden on me to leave an indelible mark for others to visualize what I see.

Where do these thoughts of goodness that flow through me come from? How many generations back of planting good seed? 

A reminder was sent to me today by a messenger. Unknowing to the cardinal? I don’t think so. He knows how to look at me, what to say and how to Say it, and to remind me of what is good. Perhaps it comes as instinct, for animals do as they are programmed, unlike many people. Their purpose is set, and while they are free to enjoy many things while on the earth, they don’t take more than they give.

I long to walk in the woods on my birthday.