My last blog post for 2012. One year of trying to capture, in words and photos, the small moments of wonder that have captivated me in the backwoods, at the homestead and beyond. Keeping the blog has been inspiring in much the same way as keeping a field journal, with the added benefit that I have been able to share it with others and hear their own stories in response.
Whenever I go out to the woods now, I find that my experience is deepened in the recording of it. I pause, look harder, try to note all the details so I can recreate the experience for my reader. I make note of the weather, the feelings of cold in my bared fingers as I struggle to retrieve my camera, or the heat of the sun on the top of my head at noon-time. I know that the heron or the squirrel are feeling that too, the heron fluffing up his down in the icy wind, or the squirrel seeking refuge from the summer’s heat in the shady, breezy crotch of the uppermost branches.
I will sniff the fissures in the ponderosa bark for the sweet vanilla scent of sap and know by the intensity whether or not the sap has started rising in the spring. I will taste the ripening huckleberries that scent the forest in the mid-afternoons of August with their sweet baking pie smells, and pucker my lips at the bitter flavor of buffalo berries.
I listen for the sound of wings when a shadow darts across the meadow and wonder at the stealthy silence of the Great Horned Owl as he passes overhead, or thrill to the deep pulsing thrum of the heron as he heads to the river, looking for all the world like a pterodactyl with his long neck crooked in.
And I don’t just notice the blooming of a wildflower, but will look deeper at it’s leaves, maybe the small and thick skinned leaves of an alpine plant designed to conserve moisture, hugging close to the earth before a radiant, heat producing rock.
I experience it deeply so that when I write about it in the blog I can attempt to make my reader feel, hear, see, smell and taste the wild. And in the writing I go deeper still, finding connections and insights I would have missed had I just let the experience pass.
Finally, I have rejoiced in the feedback from you, my readers, some of you close friends who share similar experiences with me or will add to what I know with your own specialized knowledge. Or perhaps you are someone I don’t know and you have just stumbled across my blog and that is always a thrill, to make a connection to another curious naturalist in another part of the country or the world. It is exciting and inspiring to share in your own beautiful poetry or stories and see your homeland through your eyes in your creative photography.
So to all of you who have read this blog over the last year I thank you and I encourage you to comment and share over this next year so we can, as Barry Lopez says, “create an atmosphere in which the wisdom inherent in the world becomes apparent.”