*4-23: I was hiking an unfamiliar trail a couple days ago and when it made a sharp turn, I followed it rather than pausing for what looked like an inviting creek spot in the distance; I was focused on the trail, a double-edged sword that seems to obstruct as much as it deepens. How do you balance being fully present in one thing with openness to worthy intrusions where you could also be called to full presence? In this case I did it by returning for another look today and found that I’d been short-sighted and should have given the spot time when I was first there. (Barring a time crunch, ordinarily nonexistent when camping, there’s always time to drink fully when offered a cup.) Little Swan Creek bent sharply to the left while slightly undercutting the layered rock that formed its outer bank, or rather wall. The layers were moss-, tree-, and grass- and forb-covered, some of the trees tall, obviously having been at home there for quite some time. The water ran briskly and clearly, probably deeper than it will be as summer comes on but enjoying its rainy recharge of recent weeks. Butterflies cavorted. Not many birds, which reinforced the concerns I’ve been having about the loss of animal numbers world-wide that’s been reported happening over the last half century. I can no longer assume that what I find anywhere in Nature is historically normal. If half the animals have gone missing in fifty years, as they say, is that accurate for here as well? I grieve the losses and wonder where they’ll end and equally, I regret the lost confidence that Nature is thriving. Of course, that confidence has been increasingly misplaced for a long time; it’s more recently that the losses have accelerated, along I suppose with our ability to track them.

            But back to Little Swan: Twig and I sat in the crook of the Creek’s bend for a half hour and opened ourselves to its spirit. It is one of those places that surpasses lovely and moves into ethereal and assures me that I belong there, that anyone with a receptive soul belongs there. I wonder if luxury-seeking among people is a displaced version of the richness is found in places like this? Although in a sense a simple place—to the eyes, but complex intrinsically—it could be aptly called luxuriant. I feel better when I’m in places like this even half-consciously and when more fully giving my attention we become one in spirit. The Creek made its turn and moved on south-westerly and as the trail climbed the hillside and I looked down, it merged with the leafing trees.

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