Tag Archive 'immediacy'

Oct 06 2016

Profile Image of Walt

A Touch of Wildness

Filed under Blog Post

town-forest-pond-early-octThe smell is the first thing I notice, stepping into the local town forest. It’s the smell of withering ferns, newly dropped leaves, and something distinctly autumnal that doesn’t quite sync with the mostly green canopy overhead. It all comes as something of a shock. Is it that time of year already?

My dog Matika and I amble down a trail still muddy from the previous day’s rain. Impressed by the recent trail work, I wander in circles while tracing three of the four blazed paths here. The late afternoon sunlight penetrates the shadowy forest in places. I glide along effortlessly, moving in and out of it.

Surprising silence. No birds singing out, no chirp or chatter, no wind. Suddenly it feels like I have stepped out of time and am now walking through another dimension. I start daydreaming. Startled frogs jumping into water snap me out of my reverie as I approach the pond…

Still pond gathering light from a clearing sky. Brilliant fall color just now coming out. But there’s something else going on here – a slow and subtle end to all growth. Too soon it seems, greenery lasting not more than six months at these latitudes. And yet it’s all right on schedule. Nature adheres religiously to its own rhythms.

Climbing a gentle rise away from the pond, I break a sweat despite the cool air. I’m moving faster now, heading back to my car at the trailhead, back to the work at home that still requires attention. It’s like that sometimes. I start leaving the forest behind before even stepping out of it. Yet my blood is up now, so a touch of wildness will stay with me a while longer.



Comments Off on A Touch of Wildness

Nov 09 2014

Profile Image of Walt

In the Now

Filed under Blog Post

FrHillNovA trace of snow on French Hill. My dog Matika and I tramp down the leaf-strewn trail. No sound except our shuffling through leaves.

Rifle shot in the distance. No matter. We’re wearing bright yellow and blaze orange. No one here but us… and a spooked partridge.

The sun plays peekaboo through the clouds overhead. Dried leaves still clinging to beech trees rattle in a slight breeze. Stick season: the world mostly brown and grey.

The air cold enough to justify the wool and thermal layers I’m wearing. I break a sweat while moving all the same.

Leaving the main trail, I follow the tracks of animals. It’s like this sometimes. Getting out of town isn’t enough. Sometimes I have to leave any semblance of human improvement behind in order to clear my head.

Glad I am not carrying a rifle. I take a few photos but even my camera is a distraction.  I put it away.

In due time I achieve no-mind – the goal of true woods wanderers everywhere. Not so much what I think as what I don’t think… until the forest and I are one, until I have nothing to say. The ancient Chinese wanderer Han Shan would approve.

I wander aimlessly. Oh yes, now I remember: the wild defines me.


One response so far

Jul 06 2012

Profile Image of Walt

On the Stream

Filed under Blog Post

Every once in a while, I get the urge to walk a mountain stream. I usually take a fly rod with me, hoping to get into a little trout action, but that’s not what it’s all about. I walk the stream to clear my head, to purge the negative energy from my system. Clear running water is good for that.

My tightly wound nerves start to unravel the moment I step into the woods and hear the rush of water nearby. By the time I’ve finished kneeling on the muddy bank and tying on a fly, I’m in a groove. The first cast separates my cluttered day-to-day life back in the developed places from the streamside here-and-now. From that point on, I’m home free.

After a few casts, I scramble over moss-covered rocks to the next promising hole. When large boulders or downed trees crop up, I step back into the woods, tramping through bracken, ferns and other understory vegetation. I often find a beautiful wildflower or some other delight along the way. My dog Matika often finds something interesting to sniff. Yeah, we’re both easily distracted.

Rock, forest and running water. Shadow and light. Keeping it simple. My tiny fly floats through the emerald pools, following the riffles, and I am ready to respond to the slightest splash. Sometimes it comes, most of the time it does not. The sights, sounds and smells of the mountain stream intoxicate me all the same.

A couple hours of stream walking and I’m ready to just sit and look around. That’s when I know I’m done fishing. I sit until I lose track of time. Then I tramp through the woods, daydreaming all the way back to the car. My boots and pants are sopping wet but I don’t care. The sun breaks through the forest. A thrush or other familiar songbird calls in the distance. I smile absently. I am in my element, and it feels good to be alive.


One response so far

Jun 30 2012

Profile Image of Walt

Summer Sun

Filed under Blog Post

I open the door to the back yard, letting the dog out, and am greeted by an early morning sun burning brightly as it clears the trees. Not quite awake yet, the spectacle takes me by surprise even though I’ve seen it a thousand times before. The summer sun at the start of a cloudless day is irresistible.

Summertime is all about the sun. It blazes with such intensity on the Summer Solstice that all memories of the longer, cooler time of year fade to irrelevance. And the day seems to go on forever.

Barefoot before going to work, I putter about the yard pulling weeds, watering the herbs and tomato plants spilling out of planters, and checking out flowers now opening to the sun. Then I settle into the shade of an old maple tree with my books and papers. Even when I’m not banging around in the woods, life is good. Simple pleasures, like fresh strawberries, are abundant this time of year.

Our very existence depends upon that immense orb of fiery nuclear reactions over ninety million miles away. Without it this planet would be a cold, barren wasteland as most planets are. Any closer to it and Earth would be a living hell. On some level all the plants around us seem to know this. Each day they reach towards the sun as if worshiping it, and flourish before its unblinking gaze. Is it any wonder that our first gods were sun gods? Even today, in countless modern, secular ways, we still worship it as we leave our homes and offices to recreate out-of-doors.

Here in Vermont, this far north, the growing season is short indeed. But that only makes these summer days that much more precious. This isn’t California. The sun does not shine endlessly here. So when it does we are wise to set aside everything else we are doing – the supposedly important things – and groove on the sun and all its earthly consequences. The long, cold season so conducive to deep thought will return soon enough.


Comments Off on Summer Sun

Dec 09 2010

Profile Image of Walt

Winter Arrives

Filed under Blog Post

It happened while I was busy getting ready for the holidays and my wife’s upcoming birthday.  Winter arrived, just like that.  The inch or two of snow that the weather forecasters promised us turned into a foot, and I spent the better part of a day shoveling it.  Then temps suddenly dropped into the teens.  Oh sure, the Winter Solstice is still two weeks away, but there is no doubt here in the North Country that winter has already arrived.

While tossing a ball for my dog at dusk, I noticed the brown remnants of my flower garden sticking up through the snow.  I usually cut them back before the snow flies.  How did that simple task escape me this year?  Like I said, I’ve been busy lately.  Very busy.  It’s becoming a bad habit, actually.  I cram too much into any given day.  I try too hard to make each day count, and they fly by all the same.

I like the way the flower remnants look against the snow, especially as the last light fades.  I don’t particularly like the way the frigid air stings my face, but I know I’ll get used to it.  I put on my thermals today.  It seems a little premature for thermals, but it is that time of year.

The UPS guy just dropped off a proof copy of a book for me to review.  That’s one more thing demanding my attention – one of a half dozen literary projects that I currently have in the works.  Like I said, I’ve been very busy lately.  Maybe too busy.  When is there time to stop and smell the roses?  Right now, only the dried stems of roses protrude above the snow.

My dog lives in the moment.  She plows through the snow, chasing the ball as if it’s the only thing that matters.  While tossing the ball for her, I catch myself thinking about what I’ve accomplished today and making plans for tomorrow.  I’m too busy to lose myself in the moment as she does.  And to be perfectly honest, I barely notice the cold north wind blowing my way.

Winter arrives and I turn inward in more ways than one.  Winters are long here in the North Country, so it’s easy to get lots of indoor projects done.  Yet times like these, when I’m outside and looking around, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to appreciate nature in winter the way I do during the warm season.  Probably not, but I’d sure would like to try someday.

Comments Off on Winter Arrives