Denali and I went for a walk yesterday. It seemed like typical November. Bleak, stark, bare. Cold. Still. Bland. Boring.
The thing is, Denali wasn’t bored. All her muscles were on alert, she was listening to the silence, tense and aware. She loves it so much, it’s contagious.
Also, up close-the wilderness-even completely at rest, is the most beautiful place to be- if you ask me. Very subtle. And incredibly quiet. The only sound, the only life I could pick out besides Denali was a lone merganser who wouldn’t stop splashing.
Fishing? Staying warm? No kidding,the entire hour we walked she was swimming and splashing and diving. It looked miserable to me, but I don’t actually know if it was.
I think the woods set a good example for us. They are frantically busy sometimes, with the growth, new life, the activity, the fires the storms, the winds. This weekend it just all stopped. And I stopped too, long enough to notice the ice forming along the shoreline.
I’ve been reading about math teachers these days– the literature seems to agree that people who don’t reflect on how they teach will default to the way that they were taught. It doesn’t matter if it worked well for them as students. If teachers don’t work on becoming reflective practitioners, they’re bound to repeat their own classroom experiences.
How many more things in life are like that? If we don’t take the time to reflect on our decisions, will we simply default to the way things always were? Is it that way for parenting? If I don’t reflect on the way I’m spending my time, I default to…what? You know, maybe November in the woods reminds us not to default our entire life away. Maybe the woods are practicing a little deliberate sabboth time, just plain reflective rest.
Then I started trying to be ultra-aware like Denali. These are the little mosses from our hike. I didn’t even know what they were until a minute ago, when I googled moss trumpets. Maybe there is such a thing as trumpet moss, maybe other people made that up like I did. I know that the tiny trumpets aren’t there in the spring. Well, that is what I think, but it could be that I’m too busy in the spring to notice, or all the lady slippers are too arrogant, and command any available attention.
The frost heaves are also cool looking in their own subdued way, cultivating the path and displacing the soil like tiny little spiky gardeners.
As I sat on BA point I realized that I was watching the ice form on Round Lake. I suppose it’s like sitting around watching the grass grow, but I was sort of excited about it. I’m not sure I’ve seen the actual minute of ice-in before, and it was growing in crystals. Can you see the little finger? This was not ice at the start of our hike.
For such a dull day, I’ll remember it, that’s for sure. I don’t know if I’ll change anything, or live my life any differently, but I do appreciate the reminder. And as much as I like the action and the people of my days, I do soak up the time when I can be still and marvel at the tiny trumpets. And have a little ice-in thrill. And consider my own defaults, to become a reflective practitioner of life.
In the 11th month, the northwoods rested. And it was good.
Thanks for this wonderful post. Maybe we are all teachers as we take our daily walks thru this world. I choose to reflect and default to my reflections if that makes any sense.
That was really wonderful! Thank you for posting all those beautiful pictures and reflections. I needed to hear that today! And how cool to actually SEE the ice in!