The Watcher in the Woods

Reprinted from another one of my blogs, from May of 2010.

With weather the past few days being in the teens, I am sooo ready for spring.  In fact, since I can’t wait, I thought I’d share an old blog post of mine from a couple years back  on another one of my blogs.


This past Saturday I had the extremely wonderful pleasure of a solo hike in the local Arboretum.  I was blessed to have a warm but not too hot day, and hardly ANY other souls around.  If I ran across another human it was far away.  For a brief moment I thought if I got hurt, I’m not sure anyone would really find me for a while.   But I shrugged of the irrational fear and walked on.  I’m so glad I did.

I spent about 4 hours and walked about 4.5 miles of trails.  I brought my camera, my journal, a sandwich and some water (oh, yeah, and my cell phone…just in case). I left my darling husband and dear daughters at home.  This day was just for me. Something I’d been needing since…well, forever.  A part of me really wanted to share this day with someone, but I’m so glad I went by myself.  As much as I wanted to share this experience, I really needed it for me.

The thing I noticed most about the place was how noisy it was.  The cacophony of many different birds tweeting and honking and trilling and pecking (because there was a woodpecker somewhere) was amazing.  There was croaking and a weird alternating buzzing sound coming from the wetland area.  I have no idea what kind of insects were making that noise, but it was creeping me out a bit being out there by myself.

The fresh air was of course amazing, but every now and then I’d whiff a mildly pungent odor reminiscent of onions as I walked through the forest.

 photo P1060407_zpsc3115568.jpg

This was just a tiny waterfall, but I loved the rushing sounds of it anyway.
 photo P10604042_zps28551dfe.jpg

I was never able to capture a great shot of it, but as I came around this pond, a great blue heron flew up out of the water. It was a majestic sight to behold! Every time I tried focusing the shot, he flew out of range.

 photo P1060416-1_zps38c6876c.jpg

I loved this pond.

 photo P1060463_zps915ed2e7.jpg

I had been having trouble identifying these beauties, until someone told me they were probably Eastern Kingbirds.  They have black and white plumage, a white belly, and a little fringe of white on the tail.

 photo P10604232_zpsf866ba29.jpg

This is the view from the other side of the pond.

 photo P10604132_zps5550ed4f.jpg

It was right about here when I finally understood this quote.

There was not a thing in the world that was not just as beautiful, just as desirable, just as joyous as it’s opposite. It was blissful to live, it was blissful to die, as soon as you hung suspended in space. Peace from without did not exist; there was no peace in the graveyard, no peace in God. No magic ever interrupted the eternal chain of births, the endless succession of God’s breaths. But there was another kind of peace, to be found within your own self. It’s name was: Let yourself fall! Do not fight back! Die gladly! Live Gladly!

~ Hermann Hesse, from the story Klein and Wagner in Klingsor’s Last Summer

The world could have blown itself up that very moment and I would have died gladly!

This was hard to identify at first, but after some searching, this striking blue, black and white bird is a Tree Swallow.
 photo P1060440_zps1300fb7b.jpg

I walked a while in the hot sun to get this tranquil spot. It was an amazing tree to sit under and journal my thoughts awhile.  I was sitting in the cool shade, feeling a nice breeze, enjoying the songs of the birds.

 photo P10604492_zpse1e9fa5c.jpg

There were Baltimore Orioles in that tree above my head while I wrote – a male and a female, and I realized they were there because there was a nest for their offspring. I lingered a while, after taking some pictures of the nest and the birds but didn’t get terribly great shots though because they kept hiding behind leaves.  I did manage to capture one shot when the male Baltimore Oriole flew into another tree.

 photo P10604532_zpse6e31371.jpg

And I almost thought I would not find one, but towards the end of my hike, when I stopped to take a break, I found this beautiful blue jay.

 photo P10604792_zps1d7eede4.jpg

Last but not least, I rested a while at this smaller pond just before I left.

 photo P1060486_zps2882103c.jpg

Afterwards, I felt so blessedly at peace.  I was happy and tired, and realized that my brain finally had some rest.   I left the arboretum a little body weary, but very soul-content.  I didn’t rush home right away, but took some time at a bookstore – the whole point of me being away was to give myself some much needed respite.  And I realized, for once, my mind slowed down and I DIDN’T need to entertain its demand for input or analysis.  I didn’t read or write like I normally would do.  I just sat, drank my Raspberry Mocha Kiss, let my mind wander and watched people.  It was very cool.

I have been granted a great deal of clarity over the past few days.  I’m wondering if a this solo immersion into nature has unblocked some things and has renewed something important in me.


About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
This entry was posted in Birds, Hermann Hesse, photography, Soul. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Watcher in the Woods

  1. smultron says:

    Wonderful photos. Birds visiting our balcony every day. I feel honored. 🙂

  2. That’s lovely that you have feathered friends come to visit. My dog tends to chase the birds away, but I used to have a lot come visit over the spring and summer when I left birdseed out. 🙂

Would you like to share your thoughts? I'd love to hear them.

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s