Sunday afternoon I took in the last bits of June at Fenner Nature Center’s restored native grassland area. I strolled among innumerable flowers, bees, butterflies, dragonflies, and a few mosquitoes (They’re finally here. Hooray.) and listened to birds trilling and wings buzzing. It was the perfect summer day — the one we remember from childhood — with blue skies and time stretched out in all directions.
About halfway through the afternoon I was joined by a friend who seemed content with my company for a while.
We eventually went our separate ways, I to the pond to look for frogs and turtles, she to another patch of grass.
It was a lovely time away from people and the Internet, though I was disappointed that I could still hear traffic and some kids screaming in a nearby backyard. It has me looking forward to quiet July mornings on Lake Louise before the campers drag themselves out of bed and hiking through Pigeon River Country State Forest in October with my sister.
I asked my husband if he ever feels the pull to be completely away from people and all people-related things. He never has that he can recall. If I don’t get that kind of alone time in the natural world, I start getting anxious. We are both reluctant suburbanites. He would prefer to live in a high rise in New York or Chicago or Boston. I’d prefer to live in a log cabin on a remote island off the shore of Lake Superior. The day after I shot these pictures, he and our son spent an impromptu day in downtown Detroit, riding the People Mover and checking out the skyscrapers.
When I think about it, this is practically the only difference between us anymore. We’ll have been together 20 years this October (since I was fifteen), and in that time we’ve grown up and into one another so that we really are one, as we should be. Our culture so prizes individuality that I think this notion is rather quaint these days. But when it works, there’s nothing better.
This morning spent a very peaceful morning alone walking the woods of Fenner Nature Center with my camera. Pre-motherhood, I did such things quite often. Once you have a child tagging along it is a different experience. Still a good one, but different. As the sun was rising into the hazy morning sky, I walked at my chosen pace with silent steps and no speech, listening to myriad birds singing springtime songs and watching the woods for things to photograph.
Not too far into my walk I saw the flashing white tail of a deer as it bounded out of my path. So I stopped, then moved forward slowly until I was at a point where I could see her through a little clearing in the trees. She looked at me, assessing the threat level. I was still, waiting for her to decide I could be trusted at that distance.
We looked at each other for several minutes. Then she started nibbling at the burgeoning plant life around her and flicking her white tail. This seemed to signal her friends. She was joined first by one other doe, who regarded me with just a bit of suspicion before she too began foraging. And soon thereafter two more friends joined them before they all moved on into the woods.
It occurs to me that this is how our ideas come sometimes. We are out enjoying life when a flash of white catches our eye and we stop a moment, then approach the idea slowly so as not to scare it off. We watch it closely, take in its form, maybe snap some photos or write some notes in order to capture it before it moves on. And if we are patient enough, more ideas come tumbling into the clearing in our mind.
Ideas can be timid, fleeting. Push too much and they can be pushed right out of our minds. But patience, stillness, a willingness to observe and record, can capture them forever.