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Friday, February 24, 2006

On a Mid-Winters Eve


On a mid-winters eve, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, I walk the dirt road that ends at my house, looking, listening, hearing and breathing in all that nature offers me. A dove in the distance coos as two lithely take to wing on a whistle from the tall burnt-gold grass that borders the road. Horses whinny as I pass the field where they feed, watching me like a dog guarding his food bowl.

On the northern wind blows a chill electrifying all living things, even I have more spring in my step.

The mountains in the distant blue; the darkened wood adorned in evergreen, bejeweled with pools of sun adrift on the winds tide as day flows west.

As I turn onto an adjoining road, the soiled gravel beneath my feet, harsh in contrast to all that my senses -now in full bloom- contemplate, a young whitetail doe, harmlessly feeding on grass along the edge of the coppice, flees into the wind crossing my path no more than twenty feet in front of me. Her eyes large and the deepest of brown, holding such beauty and the wisdom of nature’s ways with an instinct of survival handed down from antediluvian ancestors. I pause to admire her tracks along the roads edge, a ritual I have performed since childhood. I cannot help but to marvel at this sign of presence left by such an amazing animal, this gift given us, an endowment, as is all life on this extraordinary planet.

If man would slow down, take notice and ponder with reason, genuinely trying to see the singularity and splendor that all of life upon this breathing orb -that we call earth- offers, how much more congenial this world would be to live in.

Another hundred yards beyond this place there joins another road bordering the land of a friend forty years my senior, and I am not a young man. Charlie Floyd, a teller of tales, both temperate and callous, has lived in these mountains for eighty-nine years and has more stories to tell than time to tell them. When time does permit, we sit beneath the tall pines over looking the hollow behind Charlie's small mobile home. There is a pond in this hollow filled with fish and loved by the local beavers and otters, migrating ducks and geese make their presence known in spring and fall.

On this day, the pond - in spite of the brisk northern wind, is as smooth as silk but for an occasional ripple, as a wisp of wind steals down the ridge to intrude upon the serenity of the lakes surface. We sit in hush, there will be no story told today exclusive of the one unfolding before our eyes. One should pause and allow their senses to guide them through the oldest story told on this earth, a story understood by few--nature’s story.

The day ends as dusk drapes this mid-winters day and I say farewell to Charlie and take the shortcut through the woods, back to the warmth of my Blue Ridge Mountain home, on a mid-winters eve.

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