Back to Nature (Published on - Dec. 8, 2004)
Stop looking, and you shall find
Fall morning fog was forecast, a recipe for uncommon photographs and rare glimpses of wildlife possibly otherwise seldom seen.

We placed our boots by the front door, packed extra batteries, breakfast bars and water and set the alarm for early rising. The moon was still shining in a Payne’s gray sky. Crinoline ruffles of soft pinks and yellows edged the landscape. We walked in silence except for one feisty mockingbird announcing our arrival with each step upon these less traveled paths.

We were open to adventure, as the sun gleamed behind the trees shafting rose colored light upon the forest floor. We awaited foxes, coyotes, eagles and hawks hidden in the damp overgrowth, secluded hollows and or perched high above the mist rising from the warm lakes.

We listened. We watched.

As we walked the warmth of the sun implored us to pack up our jackets and take advantage of the water we’d packed. Still there was no sign of wild beast or flitting of a bird. We scanned the landscape with binoculars and long camera lenses to no avail. But here we were out on an exceptionally beautiful day, no other humans milling about, a mockingbird as our trumpeter and the morning shafts of sun as our guiding light.

We packed away the equipment and simply enjoyed the walk. Pinecones littered the forest floor. Mushrooms dotted the moist path. A couple of squirrels chased each other through the leafy canopy. The path quickly narrowed until we were climbing under low hanging brush and then just as if a door opened a field of wildflowers appeared on the other side.

Butterflies sipped nectar gracefully flying from one flower to the next. While an assassin bug stalked his prey for breakfast upon plumes of goldenrod, dragonflies zipped about in sharp diagonals like mini space ships and tiny pollen laden bees buzzed dutifully upon the sun drenched blossoms.

This alcove was surrounded by tall stands of oaks and pines. These stately trees of such magnificence dappled in patterns of moving light humbled us.

For a moment we stood almost frozen. This peaceful meadow was brimming with life. Our eyes darted from leaf to petal to insect to the least drop of dew. We realized that once off the beaten path our journey had changed from being a quest. It was only then that we became encircled in the magical glimpses of wildlife that we’d first set out to see.

The challenges in life are oft times overwhelming and the solutions can be just as difficult to discover. It’s only when we end our search for grander things that we discover the smallest wonders of enchantment before us. Longing in quest for more can blind us. Submitting to and being a part of the world around us in that moment of time that it takes to draw one simple breath is the exact moment that beauty, serenity, tranquility, harmony is revealed at our very fingertips.

Upon the yellow dew laden golden rod presented another world, a world as foreign to our humanness as setting foot on the red planet Mars. Here we entered an alternate existence. Their world not entirely aware of ours and we not of theirs, coexisting with one another but not consciously. Neither asks permission of the other. Neither requests a dialog with each other to exist. But as stewards we must be painfully aware that without our protection this other world will not continue to exist. In this responsibility it is my request that you, my readers, to go back into nature to discover the small things that share our planet with us.

Perhaps what seemed a daunting problem one minute may be seen as just one footstep toward a larger goal and each small stride becomes the most enchanting part of your journey, one step at a time, back to nature.

Karen can be reached at

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