Thoughts on well-being, sustainability and those things that constitute a good life beyond consumption.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Life's simple gifts

After working at home this morning I headed to my office much later than usual.  (One of the luxuries of being on sabbatical.)  As I headed over the crest of the Kittatinny Ridge, I passed a bare tree-any lingering leaves were blown off by the strong wind gusts we had over the past several hours.  In the tree sat 5 turkey vultures and, in an adjacent tree, a Red-tailed hawk was perched.  I wondered if they were resting because it was too difficult to fly in today’s November gales or if they were full from feasting on some carrion that I didn’t notice.  I watched for a few moments in my idling car; the vultures nervously shifted their weight from one foot to another.  The hawk decided to fly off.  I went on down the mountain as I wondered how what kind of day the counters were having at the hawk watches at Bake Oven Knob and Hawk Mountain just a bit to the west.
On the south side of the mountain, there were still shades of rust and gold on some trees –ornamentals mostly— that were refusing to yield completely to the changing seasons.  At a rare stop sign in this rural area, a school bus was dropping off kindergarteners where parents were waiting in their cars.  What a shame that they remained hidden from the elements as it was truly an invigorating fall day.  As I waited for the disembarkment to finish, I noticed a domestic cat coming out of the brush in the state game lands that are on one corner of the intersection.  In a few weeks, it will be deer hunters and then I would understand why the parents would stay in their cars (not that a car window will stop a stray bullet from a rifle).  Anyway, as some children met the one parent who had actually walked to the corner, the cat darted across the road and pounced on a little girl.  A rather amusing short scene; a story ripe for embellishing.  Did the other families see this?  Probably not since most of the parents were on their cell phones not even noticing their children who had climbed into the car.
I hadn’t driven more than 100 yards further and a gloriously colored male pheasant darted around in the brush and several robins fly over the road—probably wondering why they hadn’t flown south yet.
All of these wonders of nature – all within about one mile of my drive.  Was I the only one who had noticed these sights?  Such little things have always made me smile; they make me pause for a moment while I imagine silly scenarios.  I suppose that many would find it odd that I am so easily amused (or distracted) and that I actually treasure such simple things as these chance encounters with elements of the natural world. 
Just yesterday, my twelve-year old and I were walking down a sidewalk near his school in Bethlehem and marveling at the patterns that Japanese Maple leaves had made on the sidewalk after being knocked down by a heavy rain.  We tried to decide which shade of red we liked the best, each having our own favorite, but we did agree that the range of colors from a single tree was pretty cool.  I guess that my son also likes the quirks of nature.  I am happy that we still walk together and share these moments.
The Kittatinny Ridge a bit earlier in the fall in its full glory.  Photo by H. David Husic

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