Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Beautiful Summer

I walked the other day on a lovely trail...not too steep but just a little, not too down but just a was just right.  It led me along the river that runs by the Inn.  Its babblings spoke of summer sun and pine scent and peace.  The river carried this news further down and further down into the town where hopefully it spoke its peace, dissipating it into the general population.

It is high summer here in the Montana mountains and with summer comes a plethora of beauty.  So much beauty, often, I find it overwhelming my senses to the point that I cannot blog, write, photograph it...the creation is unable to be documented with sufficient human acts to do it I do not; I just look and remember. But on this particular day, I found that beauty had turned to bounty.  Lining the trail was the beginning of the summer got it....berries!!!

 If you have never tasted an alpine strawberry, well then you have never tasted a real strawberry.  They are tiny about the size of the end of my little finger.  They are hard to find, about 1 in every 5 plants has this tiny treat hanging under its leaves.  However, it is packed with the flavor of 10 of those strawberry taffy bars, only better!  Hungrily, I ravaged the tiny plants up the 1.25 mile trail.  The rewards were few but each time I found one I wanted to cry, "Eureka" for the discover meant just the briefest of moments of  exquisite flavor. 

Oh, I guess I also forgot to mention that the first of the Huckleberries were also ripening.  Small, blueberry like berries but different, they tasted more like a blueberry with a pinch of sourness which blended in my mouth to create a need for more.  So, as my hiking partner and I edged our way up the mountain we feasted upon nature's bounty and I tried to remember that the animals who we share this beautiful mountain with also needed this bounty for their survival.

 And there is the rub for me, trying to remember that it is NOT all abut Moi.  In fact, in this place, it most definitely is very little about me.  This is not my home, although it is.  The food that grows in great abundance here is balanced each year so that the true residents of this mountainside can survive.  If I decide that alllll this is really mine and I can take it all, who actually loses?  Not me, for I can go to the grocery and buy really all I will ever need ten times over, only thing I'll lose is the fleeting sensation of pleasure I receive from tasting the berries of the mountains.  This taste reminds me that at some point in time "I" knew about how to take care of myself in the wilderness.  Somewhere back in time, in my wild brain, I knew that this abundance helped "me" through the winter too and I vied with the wildlife for it.  But now, I don't need it so what is my right to it?  

It was with these thoughts rolling about in my head that I hiked up and up not to far, not too long but just enough to view the river flowing happily below, to smell the pine scent, to think about my wild self and to feel the breeze on my face.  All of these sensations helped me to get back to the ancient me, that still small voice on the inside that said, "Eat the berries, but not too much, leave some for those who will come behind you whether it be bear or human.  You do not need it all for nature is abundant and takes care of her own. There will be more for you when you need it, as you need it."  And so, as I reached down to find another tiny, red treasure, I thanked her for her provision and bounty, knowing that she will take care of those who love her.   

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Life...Its all about the Details

Looking west towards the restaurant
I sat in my usual seat, on a normal day, in a restaurant a mile down the road from where I work in Montana.  A mile being a close place to visit considering that the grocery is 30+ miles away.  We all have gotten to be friends, the waitress knows me as Vera and when I eat there it feels comfortable and familiar.  That's Montana for really does feel like home.  But familiarity has nothing to do with the wonder that eating here brings.  I sit in this seat, my favorite chair at my favorite table because the hummingbirds are 4 feet away on the other side of a window.  Watching these guys flit about, bobbing and weaving, literally, dancing in the air is a joy I've never experienced before ...being so close to these aerial acrobats makes me feel incredibly connected to nature.

Female Rufous Hummingbird - not taken by me
The Rufous Hummingbird is all of about 3 inches long and according to Cornell is "one of the feistiest of all the Hummingbirds".  Its 3,900 mile trip from Canada to Mexico is a feat incomprehensible to me.  How is it such a small bird can make that journey twice in a year?  Beating its wings uses so much energy, its metabolism so high, that if it did not go into a state of almost suspended animation when it sleeps, it would die.  Lowering its heartbeat to almost nothing, it manages to survive each night.  Living on such a thin edge between survival and death to us would be so stressful, yet for the Rufous Hummingbird, nay all Hummingbirds, it is normal. 

There is a bee in there somewhere
I ponder the lessons this little bird brings to me as I watch it compete with a large black bee or wasp.  They are both after the nectar in the feeder; the bee staying underneath the feeder lapping up the sugar that has leaked from the feeder while the Hummingbird laps directly out of the feeder.  Both are seeking the same source of nourishment but from different spaces and are not really in each others way.  However, they feel threatened at certain times by each others presence enough to chase each other around for what seems like no reason to me and burning vital resources. Useless waste of energy, I think to myself.  What is amazing to me is that the Hummingbird is intimidated by this bee.  I guess the bird fears the sting also.   

Life living on the edge of a gravel pull off
So, the wisdom of the Hummingbird to me, is this: 

1) Life is short yet full of movement and flights of fancy
2) When you need to rest then do it completely, shut down and relax
3) Things that are smaller than you can be intimidating but if you dodge and weave enough or even distract it, you and others can get what you need
4) Sharing is good but sometimes you need to just stand your ground 
5)  Beauty comes even in the smallest of packages
6) Size doesn't matter when it comes to being strong.  What does matter is your attitude, your ability to endure, knowing where your resources are, waiting/resting at the right times and persevering, all are the keys to being strong and surviving the long haul
7) Refuel often and then remember where you found it because you'll need to revisit it again while on this journey
8) Shine like the sun, show off sometimes and fly with quick wings; remember you are beautiful
9) You're going to lose some friends along the way but you have to keep flying even through the disappointment and pain
10) Live like there is no tomorrow because life is short and full of danger; enjoy the moment 

Sometimes you don't make it

 Nature has so many lessons to teach us if we just stop and think about it.  Surrounded by the beauty of the natural world, I find that often I just take a picture to record the moment, instead of stopping to ponder my part in the whole.  I do not remember that I am a participant in the turning of the circle, thinking I can stand apart from it all.  The greatest moments of clarity, I've found, come when I find my true place amongst all the other animals.

Disclaimer:  Of course, I did not have my camera with, so I'll use a picture given to me by an amazing photographer of a Rufous Hummingbird.  This was one of our Hummingbirds at the Izaak earlier this summer.  The rest of the photos are mine, just a few of the amazing things I've seen this summer.