Get lost eh!
Get Lost Eh!
One of my passions is wandering on our 160 acres of woods. This is not a huge area but plenty large enough to explore for days at a time without becoming bored. I grew up on a farmstead on the mostly bald prairie. The only experiences I had in the bush were in groups of campers or men at work. I found myself next to a forested area at 20 years of age, totally frightened by the experience of walking there alone even though there was very little chance of being hurt by any animal in the vicinity. Since that realization, I’ve worked in a slow and steady way to move through my fears to a place of comfort and oneness with the natural setting we’re in.
Please let me expound on the ‘wandering’ part of this passion. If I’m on my way to some place specific – like wanting to check if the wild plums are ripe – or if we’re out for a brisk walk or ski, I have a totally different experience than if I want to wander. If I am going somewhere specific I know I won’t take the time to let nature wrap itself around and include me in its activity. When we walk briskly, the deer, birds, squirrels, etc. know the routine. We’ll make our trudge, trudge sounds along with the occasional words and laughter and we’ll move along in reasonable time. And so everything goes quiet around us. The deer lay down keeping their noses alert to the possibility that our dogs are in our company. Squirrels usually scamper up and behind a tree and most birds fly just out of our sight. The birds and animals have learned over the millennia that those that stay around when human sounds are heard are the most likely to be taken by hunters.
When I take the time to wander, I’m not going anywhere specific and so I can take as much time as I give myself to observe, explore, get on my hands and knees, sit quietly to watch, listen more intently to the wind, the insects, birds and larger animals moving about. When we sit quietly in a natural setting it takes time for us to be absorbed. In time even the most furtive animals will come near enough to be seen. A host of birds will eventually move through the space around us – as will squirrels, rabbits, porcupine, raccoons and skunks. (Fortunately we’re in an area of the world that has few animals that would directly threaten a human.) Deer and coyotes are probably the most difficult to observe. Their hearing, sense of smell and eye-sight are remarkable. They’re well tuned to living with humans on the periphery of their world, but are very reluctant to being closely observed. Other animals are more willing to share space with us, as long as we prove ourselves to be non-threatening.
I’ve also done some animal and bird stalking in the woods. This activity is similar to bow hunting or wildlife photography in that it takes patience and careful movement and positioning to ensure that the natural setting is not unduly disturbed as I sit or slowly move in it for a specific purpose. Stalking is enhanced by learning to read signs – tracks, scat, bird song alerts, browse marks, etc. – of the particular animal or bird I want to observe.
Our guesthouse is ideally situated to test your inclinations toward this type of ‘activity’. It may just as easily be described as a form of meditation – or reconnecting with the diversity and dynamism of this earth. This property is surrounded by a barbed wire fence, from the time we had cattle grazing here, and so there is next to no chance that you will get desperately lost. You can wander and achieve the feeling of being totally relaxed in the arms of nature.