Thanks to the generosity of our friends Pete and Bonnie, Mrs. tVM and I have been spending more and more hours each day surrounded by the serenity of the natural world. Pete and Bonnie live on a 35-acre hilltop not far from the St. Croix River, and they encourage us to bring Clarence up as often as we’d like to so that he can romp unleashed in the woods and fields they call home. We timidly accepted their invitation and now visit twice a day nearly every day. When we’re not walking, we are splitting and stacking a large pile of logs that our friends will use to heat their barn in the winter. Mrs. tVM and I are reminded of the many years and countless cords of wood we cut, split and stacked during our years in Upstate New York and later in Defiance, Missouri. It is a shared activity we never tire of.
Earlier this week on a morning walk, a pheasant took flight in a field adjacent to our path, and Clarence raced after him, leaping three feet in the air in no particular sequence as if to glimpse the bird hidden among the cut corn stalks that stood like wounded soldiers for hundreds of yards in each direction. He tired after 200 yards no doubt exhilarated by the chase. Yesterday a proud American Bald Eagle soared overhead and Wild Turkeys are frequent visitors. Songbirds abound and Tuesday, we spotted a Bluebird, the first we’d seen since our brief time in middle Georgia at the turn of the millennium.
A week ago, I chanced upon a copy of the Audubon Society’s field guide to North American trees in Pete and Bonnie’s “Riverwalk Vintage Market.” As leaves are rapidly blossoming with the warmer spring temperatures, I purchased the handbook and plan to make tree ID’s to place unobtrusively in the woods. Similarly, I discovered and installed the Audubon bird identification app on my phone. Because I am not smart, the smartphone has little value to me, but I am intrigued by the Audubon app and am figuring out how to use it – and the handbook – to identify and log in bird sightings.
Swedish photographer and author Staffan Widstrand tells us in Parabola’s Summer 2019 issue,
“Many people… have experienced for themselves the value of simply walking in nature, how you return feeling refreshed, how your thinking is clearer and you are more balanced.”
Mrs. tVM and I are two of those many people. If you are not, you should be. Take a walk in nature. You will return a better person.