Yesterday was my first walk down the path that leads to the back of our fields in several weeks. I came across a few areas sprawling with May Apples. Just another sign that spring is way ahead of schedule. There is a reason these things are called "May" Apples and not "April" apples. Unbelievable how far along these wild flowers are at this time of year.
I also saw quite a number of a single species of butterfly. I am not much into the names of butterflies. More like I am into just enjoying their beauty. Still I could not resist some time spent with an online butterfly guide to identify this Red Admiral butterfly.
And while this blog may spawn from a couple hours I spent out in the woods yesterday morning, my love of being outdoors started long, long ago. From my earliest childhood memories, I loved being outdoors. I remember finding snakes out in the woods and bringing them home, although there was that incident with the garter snake that bit my little kid finger and drew blood. That incident must not have scarred me too badly because I still enjoy a good snake encounter when one occurs. (I can't say the same about critters with 8 legs, but then phobias have only a minimal relationship with reality.) Snakes are not one of those creatures that I purposely seek out so I don't see them all that often, but yesterday I came across one slithering through the grass ahead of my footsteps. Especially these days, snakes remind me of my childhood and the time spent in the woods behind my house when I was a kid. Nowadays I leave the snakes alone to do their thing, but those childhood memories are there for me to enjoy. And if anyone can I.D. the snake from yesterday's encounter, I would love to know what kind it is.
Back in my early adult years, my main enjoyment in nature was in the form of hiking. I did a lot of hiking in groups and loved the social aspect. Later I took up backpacking and while my early trips were with others, they evolved into trips with just me and one of the dogs. Backpacking was still more about hiking and putting on miles than anything else until hunting entered my life. I could probably write pages on my evolution into the sport of hunting, but I won't bore with all of that today. The point is that hunting brought a whole new way of enjoying nature into my life. It brought me sitting still and blending with nature and I often go to the woods to do just that and nothing else. While I still like to hike, I love finding a quite spot in the woods and just sitting still. For hours. Perhaps I am just getting lazy. But the act of sitting still out in the woods makes the woods come alive in a way that is very different than what happens during a walk in the woods. No longer am I walking down a path and seeing a hawk taking off out of a tree. I am sitting still and seeing a hawk landing in the tree in front of me. There is a huge emotional difference in those two encounters and I crave more of the latter.
Yesterday morning I parked my butt in my cushy Crazy Creek Chair / foam pad combo and sat up against a big maple tree standing alongside one of our fields. Within an hour, a large tom turkey came out in the field. He was in full strut and the sun was shining off his iridescent feathers creating a spectacular scene. I watched him parade back and forth across the field for the next 45 minutes until two hens walked by him and he followed them into the woods and parts unknown. This is what I live for. I will gobble up these moments in life as long as I am able.