I sometimes take longer than I expect, but I do keep my commitments. I finally made it out to sit in the woods!
I am so blessed to have a wooded area near my home with plenty of streams running through it. There is a wide path, perhaps an old logging road, that we often walk through. On Sunday, after a couple of very late nights, I decided to cancel my other plans, and go sit in the woods.
I decided to take an off-shoot path that I don’t often take. Going down the old road makes a nice circuit, I enter the woods in one part of my neighborhood, come out in another, and I can walk back through the streets to get home. It’s about a 30 minute walk at a leisurely pace. The off-shoots don’t necessarily make a loop like that. I have to retrace my steps to get back home, and I usually prefer to continue going forward, instead of turning back.
However, the main “road” is often used by recreational vehicles – dirt bikes and quads. I wanted something a little more secluded, more wild. Hence, the path less traveled.
Less traveled also means more obstacles. I live in a temperate rainforest climate, so there were lots of large puddles to circumnavigate. I was rewarded with quiet, and not far down the path, I could tell that it had been many days since vehicles or people had been through this way.
I tried to walk as quietly as I could, though the protective rain pants I was wearing made that a little challenging! Before long, I found the pond I remembered, and found a spot next to a huge tree stump to sit and listen to the water rushing through a natural dam. I noticed a few flying insects, and I could just pick out a bird chirping over the sound of the water.
I grounded and meditated for a while, and then I heard an unusual noise. I think it was a dog howling, quite a ways off in the distance. But my mind went into protection mode, and I started thinking about cougars. As much as I told myself I was safe, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being watched.
So I got up, and was about to start back down the path, when I felt called to go just a little deeper into the woods.
I carefully picked my way through the marshy ground, and as I came around a curve, I saw some waterfowl resting in the upper part of the pond. As quietly and as slowly as I could, I made my way closer and sat on the bank to watch them. As I was moving to sit, a pair of mallard ducks that I had not noticed lifted off from the pond and flew away.
I sat for at least a half hour watching the three other birds. (I looked them up in my bird book when I got home; I am pretty sure they were common mergansers.) There was a male, a female, and a smaller bird. The male and female were calmly floating on the surface. The male was preening every once in a while. The smaller bird kept diving under the surface. I’m not sure if it was the same kind of bird, but it reminded me of my children – in constant motion!
It was so peaceful sitting on the bank of the pond, listening to the rain falling gently on the water, and not DOING anything. I simply was. I didn’t have a book, or technology to distract me. And it was so pleasant!
Eventually, as the gray light began to fade, I slowly rose and made my way back. I was in absolutely no hurry, and so I noticed the robin who stopped and sang for me. As I came out of the woods back onto the street, I startled a buck and two does in someone’s yard. I froze, and watched the doe who had not bolted with the other two deer. She and I stood looking at each other for quite a while, before she made her way off into the edge of the forest. Even then, I saw the two does looking back and watching me. A blessing from Artemis.
My schedule is very full, and I don’t often make time to sit in the woods like I want. However, I am filled with the peace of nature, and I have that memory to recall whenever I am stressed by our technological world.