Snowy Walkabout

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One of the many miracles of nature is the unforeseen lesson: out of the blue, she teaches you something new.

Yesterday I went for a walk in the local woods, seeking burls on fallen trees to make a kuksa, a carved wooden cup, and looking for fatwood. I had not gone far at all when I came across a blown down pine, and a promising branch soon allowed me to harvest the precious fatwood that I use for fire starting. I love the smell of pine!

Snow began to fall as I traversed the wooded terrain, marveling as the speed of the snow increased and the flakes began to stick, revealing the contours of the land to be that moments before had been a swath of browns. Soon–if the snow continued to fall at this rate–the terrain would vanish again into a swath of white. New snow produces a heady feeling though (if you’re not from Boston!), and with lightened step I moved forward toward a hillside break in the woods. And there Mother Nature offered to me a lesson.

Stretching across the hillside was a suddenly visible trail, an animal footpath that had been well disguised among the weeds before the snow, but which was now revealed by the new-fallen flakes. In an instant it dawned on me as to why this was the case: the animals had packed the soil down, hardening it and making the flakes more susceptible to sticking there than on the surrounding, untrodden grasses and leaves. It was beautiful, even magical, as I went into the woods on the far side of the clearing and saw the paths continue before meet. At one point two paths joined. Here, amidst and idle walkabout in the woods, I was discovering something new, something that I could only see at the beginning of a snow storm and which I was blessed to see only by a trick of fate that brought me out of the trees at just the point the animals crossed the clearing.

My soul sustained yet again by nature, I wandered on. I never found the burl I sought, but it didn’t matter. I had gained a precious lesson that I valued infinitely more.

To see a video of this walkabout, please click here.

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