The profoundness of nature
Here’s the scene: About twenty minutes into yesterday’s stroll round the nature center, I said to myself, that’s it, I’m cold and I’m heading back to the visitor center and I’m finishing the budget work I’d “finished” a time or two already.
The important thing to take from that scene: the cold. I was cold. Cold cold cold.
Yes, it’s February, and despite the warming of the planet it’s still likely to be below freezing here in Michigan. And I can take it. But still – I was cold.
So I turned round and set off on a fairly direct route back to the visitor center, which took me south of the woodland pond and through the maple grove. Well, not exactly. You can go into the maple grove or you can take the paved path around it – yesterday, without any real thought devoted to the decision, I chose the paved path around it.
I am so glad I did.
It was so cold, and had been similarly cold for a few days, that wherever I walked, my steps crunched with every footfall. It didn’t matter what I stepped on – twigs, leaves, ice, you name it – it all crunched under my feet as I stepped. All this natural debris, when frozen, is really loud when stepped on. Any wildlife tough enough to be out on such a cold day were alerted to my approach about 5 minutes before I got to them because of all my crunching.
Needless to say, with the racket I was making, I didn’t see much in the way of wildlife…
… until I came crunching round the bend near the west end of the maple grove, that is. A couple hundred yards from the visitor center – the heated visitor center – I could almost taste the glorious warmth of the library that sometimes doubles as my “office”, so I picked up the pace a bit. Even when I’m motivated to move and not waste any time on the trails, I want to observe as much of the surroundings as I can. That’s the whole point of my strolls there – to soak up as much of the beauty in the trees and birds and ponds and chipmunks and deer and butterflies and sunlit leaves as there is.
So – crunching round that bend, I caught a glimpse of a family of white-tail deer. Even with all my crunching, these deer were not the least bothered with my coming close. Sometimes they’re like that. Other times, they’re all about high-tailing it away from me as I get too near. This time, they were happy to watch me even when I got relatively close.
Eight deer watching me, curious looks from sixteen dark, beautiful, soulful eyes. This is why I love the nature center. Communing with the creatures, as I call it, is among my favorite things and brings me as much contentment as anything. So it will come as no surprise that I easily spent ten minutes watching these deer with as much interest in them as they had in watching me. In moments like this, I’m transfixed. It’s like I’m in a room full of people and suddenly catch sight of a pretty girl on the other side of the room – but not just any pretty girl, the pretty girl who steals my heart right then and there. At that moment, there’s no one else and nothing else in the room.
It was like that as I watched the deer, strange as that likely sounds. The rest of the woodland faded into the distance. There was no one else there, nothing else there. Just the deer and me.
More than that, the cold was gone. I simply was no longer feeling the cold as I watched these eight deer. It wasn’t until after I decided to leave them to their foraging and grooming that I realized again I was in fact cold.
But for those ten minutes – while watching a gaggle of deer do nothing much more than look curiously at me – the cold left me alone for a while. Alone with eight beautiful forest creatures.
Now, about these pictures. The observant and familiar enough among you (Holly) are saying that (1) there’s no eight deer there, (2) these deer are nowhere near the Maple Grove Loop, and (3) it wasn’t sunny yesterday in Lansing at all. Well, yes – right. Correct on all counts. I got no decent photos yesterday, so resurrected these from a year ago. For all we know, though, these may be the same deer…