A Quiet Day

Wood curlJohn Muir, naturalist and founder of the Sierra Club, once wrote:

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

I went into the wood this day feeling down and packing a lot of cares. I’m afraid I did not have access to the tall windswept mountains of Yosemite like Muir did. Instead I came to the rolling hills and thick trees of a wood near my home.

waterfallI’ve walked here many times through the years – spring, summer, fall, and winter. Maybe we know each other too well. No winds blew and no storms energized the atmosphere – every stone, branch, and trickle of water seemed to match my mood exactly.

Among the trees the silence was so thick that I could feel it like a weight. Only the slightest breeze stirred and that was in the tree tops; not down with me. The light whispering sound of the gently shifting leaves only punctuated the silence around me by providing a sort of “white noise” background that muffled everything under it.

No birds sang – hardly any were about. The few that I actually saw just hopped here and there through the tree branches without uttering a word. Even the ever present and always effervescent chipmunks and squirrels were nowhere to be seen or heard. I saw no deer – nothing.

The water in the streams has mostly run away from the long dry summer. What remains slips furtively through the stones in hopes it won’t be noticed. Where forced into the open by some straight drop, it pours gently onto the stones below and buries itself again as soon as possible.

BlurI wandered slowly all day in somber union with the wood pressing close around me.

Only once was the mood broken – I sat staring at a small stream of water pouring over the edge of a stone shelf. Although my body was still, my mind continued walking in dark daydreams. A single crow flew past unseen (since my eyes were turned inward at the time). Just as it came over my head, it let out a deep throated cry. Amid the silence it sounded as if it were screaming right in my ear. I nearly jumped out of my skin. Then it flew on by as quickly as it had come.

The sound of its call rippled through the wood like rings around a stone tossed into a pond, but it was doomed. It fell quickly away. There was no answer to be had here today. The woods and I went back to our brooding.

Time passed. Soon, or maybe not so soon, I don’t know which, it was time to leave. Any other day I would be loath to leave the woods and return to the hustle and bustle of modern life, but today it was almost a relief. The woods were running deep today and getting deeper. I was in over my head.



4 Responses to “A Quiet Day”

  1. Bernie Kasper Says:

    Wonderful images Mark, I really enjoy your water shots, nice work.

  2. forestrat Says:

    Thanks Bernie,

    I’ll be heading down to Florida soon to visit my sister for a few days. Probably won’t get any pics as nice as you did on your trip, but I’ll give it a shot.


  3. [jm.n] Says:

    That crow was talking to you that day, telling you to cheer up! That’s why you felt it through you. I always feel great whenever I’m in the great outdoors, can’t help it, no matter how down I may feel. It’s a reviver!

    Love the top pic — quiet, deep, interesting, twisted but interesting.

  4. fencer Says:

    ‘Wood Curl’ is great!


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