Tag Archives: animals

At Peace in the Forest

20160105_132143.jpgI walked in the woods. It was cold. The chill on my face was cold enough for me to notice. I thought that maybe it was cold enough to freeze condensation into my moustache. The snow was hard. It was frozen, molded by the beings that had trodden there before me. My steps were my own, but nearly every one of them landed where another had trod this space recently. My own passage through this place was loud and I wondered who, or what else, knew I was there. I assumed that all animals were keenly aware of my presence. When I stopped to tickle the depths of my throat with the crisp, clean, cold air, I heard nothing else. Save, the fluttering beech nut leaves that clung in the slight winter’s breeze to the twig that gave them life. Now and again I heard the pop of some piece of tree bark that finally succumbed to the temperatures. But for man, I heard nothing. I listened to my heartbeat as my eyes and ears sought out other sounds deep in the forest. The trickle of distant water half covered in ice seemed so loud even when it was still far enough away that I could not see it. The steps I took were in earnest as I couldn’t wait to get to a place where the path ran away to disappear somewhere around the next bend. Finally, after checking a spot along a trail that I had not explored before, I noticed that the foot prints in the snow ended, reversing themselves along the trail as they had entered.20160105_133126.jpg

Ahhh, I looked around and made no haste in determining my new direction. As a matter of fact, I even removed my heavy outer layer of clothing as I had created too much heat on my walk into the woods. I stripped down to my bare back in order to cool down and make sure all layers of my clothing were dry. I was worried that if my shirts were wet, and my pace slowed in the shadows of hills and forest, that I might quickly get too cold. It was only 14°F with a wind chill in the single digits back in the forest. I re-layered, and I wore the heaviest layer like a belt around my waist, because I knew if I was moving, I would be warm enough. I did not want to cut my time short, for there aren’t enough hours available to fully enjoy this landscape already.

Then I decided it would be the tiny deer tracks that I saw, tracks that made the faintest of impressions on the snow dust, like a thin layer of powdered sugar covering the crusted snow, was where I would follow. I walked in the woods. I walked on crusted snow. There were no other foot steps. There was no trail. I followed some animal tracks, but mostly just the lay of the land. The crusted snow was slick in spots but I thought of how much more difficult this walk would be in the summer months of growth. I knelt by a small stream to listen while my eyes searched for each instrument that played such a rhythmic trickle. I looked through the crystal clear sheet of ice and watched the water flow over the bed of the stream. I followed the land and its ease of passage feeling for the contours I would seek if looking at a map of the terrain. I came upon a large wetland that was fed by several small streams, a couple of which I had encountered during my walk. I skirted around the wetland checking the tracks in the snow and noticing the age of the massive fir trees around me. I noticed almost no hard wood trees and figured that the land had been cleared generations before me. Then as the ground rose, away from the water, I noticed a super highway of animal tracks. There were deer, muskrat, turkey, bobcat, coyote, otter, and another bird tracks that I wasn’t sure of. There was probably even more tracks that I missed. But during my time there, only the water, the wind, and I were moving. I stood in silence and let the sun warm my face, as I daydreamed of being there in that spot on some early, early morning to see all the activity connected to the tracks I saw. 20160105_133155.jpg

I listened to the sounds, the silence found in the absence of sound. I talked with my Lord aloud. I figured the nature around me was already familiar with The Lord Almighty, and that it would be just fine to speak aloud. I prayed aloud. I prayed in reverence. I prayed a thankful prayer. I prayed for the vision and attentiveness to notice the awesomeness of the Lord’s works in so many people, places, and things that I encounter every day. I prayed for my Dad, for my whole family, and for many more. I prayed for our leaders to boldly go where true leaders must go. I prayed for God’s direction for them, for me, for my family, for us all. I prayed about a lot of things. I talked openly with God. Finally I prayed for more opportunities to be in such wild and natural places as often as His will would allow. For me, there’s a calming, encompassing, peace and a connection to God that is unmistakable when truly engaged in the forest. For all of life that whisks by us in a blur that seems to be an endless loop at times, I was so grateful for these couple of hours in nature. I knew I had other commitments that I needed to attend to, so I made my way out of the forest, reluctantly returning to reality. As I left the woods and was returning to the places I needed to be, I saw a large, beautiful, wandering coyote going about his or her day. I smiled and I thought, perfect, I am leaving, let the animals return to their business. 20160105_133840.jpg


Young Buck

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Wildlife moment

I didn’t get any of this on camera as my camera was outside in my vehicle, but we had a wildlife moment out back this morning. It started with my son spotting an animal at the edge of the yard. He came to me to verify its identity. It was a bobcat. So, the two of us watched the bobcat for a minute or two as it sat quietly, interested in something we couldn’t see in the distance. Then, just like that, the cat disappeared to the woods along the river. Minutes later, our house cat trotted out back, obviously picking up on the scent of the bobcat. As our cat stalked the area where the bobcat had been, his attention was also drawn to the same area that had intrigued the bigger cat. We couldn’t see what the cat was checking out behind a small hill, thick brush, and some young trees. Then charged a doe, snorting and lowering her head. The deer took four or five aggressive steps towards our cat. Now the deer was right behind our deck and our cat had run full speed to our sliding door where I let him in. The deer turned for the woods after noticing me. But, our yard full of clover was too much to resist. The deer sauntered back down the grade to the grass. Meanwhile, our cat was whining incessantly to go back outside, so I let him onto the deck. The cat saw the deer and stayed put behind the deck railing. The deer saw the cat and did an about-face, turning toward the deck and lowering her head again. The deer kept her distance before deciding to gracefully high-tail it back in to the woods, snorting for all to hear along the way. And thus was the start to my day; fifteen minutes of entertainment, just by looking out the window.

Mixed comments

The twins are approaching 3 years old and the commentary is amusing, if not hilarious, on a daily basis. These are some interactions from the last few days.

Jacqueline: (while sitting in her little fold up chair, reading from a book about dogs and cats) Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?

Me: Who is the fairest honey?

Jacqueline: I don’t know. I see a snake.

Me: A snake? There’s a snake in my boot!

Jacqueline and Theodore: (almost in unison) That’s not how it goes! Only Woody says that!

Jacqueline: You’re too funny daddy.

Jacqueline: (gasping and wide-eyed) Daddy! I see a bear!

Me: You see a bear? Where?

Jacqueline: Yes I do. It’s here (holds up her hands)

Theodore: (reaches in from nearby, and in a snatching of something invisible motion) All gone. I got it.

That was the end of that. No more bear, no more snake, just on to the next imaginary adventure. It wasn’t long before the kids claimed there were crocodiles in the area. There’s always plenty of animals around our place.


Theodore: (while talking on his play phone and looking for his little Thomas the Tank Engine) Thomas, where are you? I look everywhere for you. I can’t find you. Where are you?

Me: Theodore, who are you talking to?

Theodore: I talk to Thomas tank. I can’t find him. He’s not here. Where’s Thomas tank? Where is he? I check the toy box. (Opens the toy box lid) He’s not in here. (Grabs some toy keys and shuts the lid) There. I locked it.
Theodore continues: Now I’m leaving (keys in hand). I have to leave…(offering a wrinkle faced smile to me) Noooooo, I won’t leave you.

Jacqueline: (dramatizing a bit) Oh no, don’t leave me! Teddy! Don’t leave!

Theodore: (leaning in, looking at me, as if looking at a camera, gives her a hug) It’s okay sister. I don’t leave.


Sitting at the dinner table over the weekend, the three youngest kids, my wife and I were enjoying lunch when Jacqueline exclaimed, “That’s Theodore! He is so handsome!”

Thanks #16 (Shelter)

I am thankful for shelter. Psalm 62:8 – Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. God is my shelter.

I am thankful for the shelter provided by simply bowing my head, shutting out the world around me, for even just a moment, to have a word with Him.

I am thankful for the shelter of this roof and these four walls. I can be protected from the elements, here with my family.

I am thankful for the shelter provided by our vehicles, allowing me a mode of travel keeping me warm and comfortable.

I am thankful for the shelter I find in conversation with my parents when, for the moment, I can’t seem to handle the thoughts I muster in dealing with troublesome situations.

I am thankful for the shelter I feel when life is going faster than I can run and I pause in the dim of night shadows to smile as I gaze upon any one of the kids peacefully sleeping.

I am thankful for the shelter found in the happy spaces I find among the mundane tasks and jobs in life.

I am thankful for the shelter found in the gathering of family when everyone I ever loved or needed seems to be right there beside me, and we’re all on the same page.

I am thankful for the shelter found in the sad and somber moments when I take inventory of the things that matter most.

I am thankful for the shelter made up of sounds found outdoors that shortens the distance between the fast-paced now and the all-natural then. The wind whispers through the leaves, needles, and twigs. Water rushes continually somewhere out of sight but within earshot. Birds sing and signal all around. Somewhere a squirrel sounds his alarm. Then in other spots there is nothing but silence except for the crunch of leaves under foot. Oh, there is shelter here in these sounds.

I am thankful for the shelter I feel anytime I walk into, or around in, my boyhood yard. It still seems like nothing could ever have harmed me there.

I am thankful for the shelter I find when I stand in the black of night and stare at the sky, so full of stars, that it seems to fall down around me, holding me there as the warm remnants of my own breath visibly curl slowly away from me to leave that amazing view right in front of my eyes.

I am thankful for shelter in so many shapes and forms. Places I can go to regroup, or to weather the storms that life hurls at me from day-to-day.