I chose to walk intentionally today, pausing every few moments to look and wonder. I didn’t want to rush, always seeking the next best thing.
And so I began with a stop to admire the great lobelia that continues to bloom despite the frost we’ve had this past week.
But it was at a former log landing we can see from the kitchen window, that “what’s next” kicked into gear.
While the field beyond our stone wall is mowed once a year, this area has been allowed to follow the order of succession for cleared land. Goldenrod, asters, meadowsweet, grasses and raspberries have filled this space. What will follow?
Further along, the deer and
the antelope, I mean, moose play. No fresh bobcat or coyote prints after this morning’s rain, but I saw some scat from both. And I had to remind myself not to have expectations. That’s the thing. It’s so easy to get caught up in looking for the next best thing and forgetting to focus on the moment, the beauty and the complexity that surrounds us.
So I did–focus that is. On the big tooth aspen leaf decorated with rain droplets,
aster seeds waiting for their moment of dispersal,
a hemlock that long ago knew this forest as farmland,
an autumn meadow hawk soaking up the late afternoon sun,
the variety of life growing on a stump,
My eyes were drawn to all manner of life growing on trees that are past their prime, from woodpeckers and sapsuckers to mosses and fungi, including violet-toothed, birch and tinder polypores, plus Jack O-Lanterns that glow in the night.
I found an older tinder conk springing forth with life as it gleans sustenance from its host,
chaga, that hardened mass of hyphae that is proclaimed to be life-giving,
mossy maple polypores growing in a wound, as is their preference,
and more mossy maple, this time covered with the brownish-gray lobes of field dog lichen, which typically grows on the ground. Huh? Creation at work. Soil forming on top of the moss covered fungi–certainly a fertile ground.
I found quartz where I expected to find only granite,
a small royal fern holding court on its own,
and the bead-like fruiting stalk of the sensitive fern.
I saw plenty of birds, including a few ruffed grouse that I startled as they startled me. This and other red squirrels chatted insistently whenever I was near.
And I saw the sun’s rays reflected by the beech leaves.
Sometimes following trails, other times bushwhacking, I wondered what will become of this forest.
Open spaces invite pioneers to settle down.
In other places, those that long ago gained a foothold continue to enjoy the view–of Pleasant Mountain.
Making my way homeward, I found myself in the presence of the birch clan–paper, yellow, black and gray–how sweet it is.
As the foliage enjoys its final fleeting moments, I intentionally move from wondering what’s next to enjoying what’s now.