June 1, 2010
Several years ago I was on vacation with a dear friend, and her sister. We took a long road trip into New Mexico. The sister’s name is long forgotten but not her check list of sites to be seen, which she strictly adhered to, and would not deviate. I was horror-stricken each time she whipped out her pen whittling the list as though she was in a grocery store.
I knew immediately I had to be strictly on my own traveling the open road. My idea of a vacation is simply to vacate back to nature.
Resting on the banks of Medicine Lake I watched gentle rays of light begin to reveal a lake bursting with life. Cool, delicate, breezes, filled with the fragrance of sweet wild grass and wild alfalfa, wet with early morning dew, reached my nostrils and senses eager to be intoxicated by nature’s perfume.
I was surrounded by absolute stillness that can only be experienced in nature. It was profoundly tranquil. The silence was broken by sounds of flapping wings creating soft, rapid puffs of air beneath the wing span of geese preparing to land. Loud splashes could be heard, as outstretched feet dove beneath the surface, echoing across the water.
Tender gusts of barely audible wind rustled tall reeds and cattails sending ripples over the water, causing ducks and geese to bobble as they dove for breakfast. Gentle waves lapped against the shore creating a hypnotic rhythm.
Across the dawn’s red sky, a flock of honking ducks soared heaven bound in search of new territory to be explored for the days’ food supply.
How can one describe the sound of a cricket? A nearby cricket began his bass solo. Soon he was joined by a tenor situated further to the South. I was enjoying the duet when suddenly an alto and soprano chirped in from the West and North. Soon others began their creaking jigs, ricocheting from every possible direction. Were they singing or just gossiping?
The crackling of dry grass upon the earth signaled larger animals were close by, heading to water’s shore. Slow paced deer arrived for an early morning sip. With bowed heads, slurping thirstily, they suddenly jerked their heads into the wind, nose’s twitching, straining to catch a dangerous scent. With ears perked and tightened muscles they swiftly loped off in search of safety. Did they drink enough water to sustain them for a few hours?
As I followed the noses of the deer, foxes appeared out from cover of tall native grasses. Silently they stalked and followed their prey. Oooooooohhhhhhh, nature can sometimes be brutal.
Plunk! Plunk! Plunk!, was heard as soft ripples appeared where fish flashed, catching air, before plunging back into their cool wet habitat with barely a splash.
As darkness became a memory, the faint hooting of an owl ceased, and as if on cue, a chorus of song birds began their morning melodies. I was regretting having to leave long before I left, but like in the movies, I was leaving as the birds were singing my song.
I had been lost in time, and as I walked back to the truck I felt nourished, fulfilled, and very happy. Indeed, I knew I was much happier than the miserable woman who took in the sites to complete her check list. I felt sad for the empty life she must have lived.
I don’t remember who wrote, “It is not the destination but the journey,” all I know is that destinations are only a place on the map, but our experiences along the way can change who we are, how we perceive other’s, and sometimes force us to see ourselves as others see us. OMG! One never needs a check list to enjoy nature, it just happens.