Saturday, March 21, 2009

Nature's Gifts

"It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know wonder and humility."
-Rachel Carson

Now that warmer days are approaching, I am back to my outdoor ritual of three mile walks down North Lubec and Maple Tree. I love this stretch of road because it is fairly unpopulated by vehicles, and quiet enough to hear the birds and other sounds of nature.

Last Tuesday I arrived home from school eager to "suit-up" and begin my jaunt. I had gifted Chris an MP3 player last solstice, and thought I would give it a try. I knew I would be drowning out the sounds of nature, but I do so love music as well, and maybe this would give a little more bounce to my step.

"Suited-up", headset on, I opened the front door. What?! Where did this chill come from? Just thirty minutes ago it was a warm, sunny, spring-like day. I turned back into the house exclaiming "it's too cold!" Chris, my exercise motivator, sternly said "Alright, looks like the treadmill today." The thought of another boring treadmill session was enough to re-motivate back out the door I went.

The 100 yard walk down the driveway was treacherous. I had to take baby steps to make it safely across the ice to the end. And even at the end of the driveway, cold cold cold. I thought, maybe once I am in the sun, I will warm up. So I turned a right out the drive and onto the pavement, and right into a strong northeast wind that pummeled my face. My ears were quickly numbing. I wanted to turn back, but Chris' words...."treadmill today....." echoed through my mind. I could see a patch of sun a bit up the road...if only I could withstand this cold long enough to make it to that warm spot.

Indeed the sun provided a bit more warmth, at least psychologically, but the wind was still fierce. I bargained with myself that I would do a half-walk, just as far as the market and back. I had Chris' MP3 player afterall, and the music selection was, well, interesting. A bit of Rolling Stones, some Michelle Shocked, Jules Graves, Dire Straits. Yep, I can handle that. But what is this "Rage Against Machine", "Ramones", and "Angry Samoans" stuff?

Well, I made it to McFadden's Market, and I just didn't want to turn around. Yes, I was chilled, but maybe....MAYBE...those trees up ahead on Maple Tree Road would provide some sort of protection from the wind. (I know what you are thinking, why didn't I just dress warmer? I don't know! Strangely, it just didn't occur to me). I kept walking.

Maple Tree Road is remote. I pass three homes at the beginning of the road, and the rest of my walk is tall spruce on either side, the old mines, and a stream. As I approached the far end of my walk, I was given the most amazing gift.

To my left, in a leave-less, dead birch tree, just beyond the stream, were three bald eagles. At the very tip top, a young eagle, a few feet below, another, and below that a mature bald eagle. I turned off the MP3, and stood in winter's last days' stillness, and experienced the awesome power and beauty of nature. These eagles were less than fifty feet from me, and I could see the detailing in their feathers, look them in their eyes. Within a couple minutes, I looked up overhead to see two eagles circling over, in a mating ritual, so close I could hear the flapping of their wings. The sounds were slow, loud, long, it felt like time was frozen around me except for these majestic beings flying over.

I stayed with the birds for what felt to be five minutes of more, until each eagle left the tree, one at a time. Each flight I heard the wings begin their movements as the birds jumped from a branch to take flight into the blue. They hovered my area for a bit, then drifted off.

I didn't feel so cold anymore as I turned and began the return part of my walk, headed home, feeling humbled and reverent.

I am fortunate that I kept walking that day, despite the chilling temps and ice.

It was my best walk ever.

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