New Experiences…even after 50 years

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Over the past days I have been out and about in nature and had the privilege to  experience some things for the first time.

My first new experience came when I headed out for my ‘walk,’ which is usually a sort of shuffle jog alternating with a fast walk.  Since there was so much snow on the ground this day, my walk was more like a steady trudge in mud.  Every step required that I plunge my heavy boot into the snow, wait for the sink and then lug my leg back up over the snow’s surface to plant the next step.  I felt sort of like a soldier with a really bad marching gait.  Needless, to say the exercise was great as was the scenery.  For the first time in my life I walked on an ocean beach that was covered in snow.  The sun was shining and it was beautiful to see the snow in lumps over the beach rocks and sitting atop the upright logs meant to help hold the beach sand in place.  I marvelled that I could be seeing something for the first time.

Another day when it was really snowing we thought we would head out to the marsh and leave some bird seed for all the birds that find sanctuary and make their homes there. We stood and sprinkled seed but I also held some in my hand and within seconds a chickadee landed on my hand and at right from it.  I squealed with shock from the feeling of its little feet on my hand as well as delight in the fact that this little wild creature was actually feeding out of my hand.   I felt so excited to see this little creature up close and to notice the distinct markings of its feathers and its little eyes and beak.

Finally, yesterday I got to see an elusive creature that I have heard but never seen; a Roosevelt elk.  I saw it in Cathedral Grove by the side of the road eating Salaal. I was so thrilled that I neglected to stop and take a picture.  Imagine my shock when several hours later I drove back past that same spot and the elk was still there.  This time we pulled over and I got out, crossed the road and approached the majestic animal.  I could see that it was clearly sick, as it was thin and tired looking.  Even in its fragile state, I still marvelled at the stateliness of this giant, quiet creature.  I was no more than 15 feet away from the elk when it looked straight in my eyes and gently laid down in the underbrush as if to say to me, I’m tired and I have to rest now, please don’t hurt me.  I snapped some photos and got back in the truck to process what I had just seen.

After calling the conservation office I later learned that the elk was sick and was not able to be rescued.  It was put down and although I was sad, in a way it was a relief to know that the elk was not poached by a passerby or abused in any way.

Knowing that even after 50 years there are still so many things I have not seen or done gives me hope for the future and causes me to be willing to hang onto my sense of wonder and curiosity. Just as I know there will be bumps in the road ahead I can also rest in the knowledge that each day there are new wonders to experience, people to encounter and form bonds with, and always…….. nature to sustain and astound us.

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