A friend of mine, whom for blogging purposes we will call “D”, has no interest in wilderness or photography. He is not moved at the sight of a wild animal on a large museum exhibition print, nor stimulated at the prospects of seeing one in the landscape. Camping, hiking, and getting off the grid are foreign concepts in his universe of video games, social networking, and communication by text. Not that these activities serve no purpose, but turning off the Wi-Fi now and then is a good thing. So you can imagine my surprise when “D” told me he wanted to begin training for an obstacle race. Not just any obstacle race, but one featuring a motley crew of zombies, Spartan warriors, and perhaps a chance encounter with a future “Mrs. D.” Whatever inspires you……
I suggested he join me on a mountain hike to begin his training regimen. He agreed to this proposition as long as he did not have to wake up early.
Now late May into June is a most exciting time in the natural world as the sounds of the songbird fill the forest with their music and the gentle trickles of spring rain flow through waterfalls and streams. This harmonious symphony would not be complete without the sounds of all the newborns! Coyote pups howling, the chirping of newborn Robins, and the steps of a whitetail deer fawn following its mother through the forest; each sound epitomizes the seasons of rebirth and growth.
The mountains of Virginia and West Virginia provided the backdrop for many of my recent adventures, and I had scoped out different locations for my landscape work, with some requiring a few hours of hiking before I could even set up my tripod. So you can imagine “D’s” distress when I made him wake up at 1 AM so that I could be at a location before sunrise. Our only light source came from headlamps, along with commentary from “D” complaining about the trauma I was putting him through, making this hike seem like a regrettable enterprise. When we finally made it to the location I was pleased to find that Mother Nature decided to cooperate with me.
“These clouds are fantastic, with this light and……”
As I stopped midsentence I realized I had been talking to myself as I had not heard a response from “D” for a few minutes. I looked over and D was just fixated on the clouds.
“It’s beautiful,” he said, “I’ve never seen clouds like that before.”
Gorgeous sunrise: check.
I had hoped that we would come across a bear on our hike because seeing mega fauna would hopefully inspire “D” to appreciate wildlife. I discovered a few den sites this season which provided ample opportunities to view and photograph bears. When we heard the cracking of dead leaves on the ground I immediately thought a bear was near but it was a whitetail deer and a newborn fawn. I instructed “D” to stay low and watched their behavior closely to avoiding causing any distress to the mother. Instead of exiting they strayed closer and “D” was able to see first hand the attentiveness and care the mother showed to its offspring.
Cute Baby Animal: check
Later on we came across a rather macabre looking scene of a bloody squirrel tail. This unfortunate incident for the squirrel resulted in nourishment for another life; nature can appear cruel, but it is the cycle of life. I surveyed the area to see if the hunter was still around but what we saw instead was much more profound. Two fledging Barred Owl chicks were staring at us from their nesting cavity. The answer was clear; the squirrel provided what these chicks need to survive in their first critical months of being on this Earth. What initially began as disgust on “D’s” part transformed into childhood enthusiasm. He had never seen a wild owl before, and now he had seen two chicks!
Nature presenting life lessons: check.
What started out as a pain for “D” turned out to be a great day. Was it life changing? I certainly hope so, but until then at least I have the satisfaction of sharing the outdoors with him. I do know he appreciates nature photography more because he visits this website.
I did receive a text message from him though, to which I gladly re-post:
“Are you free to go hiking this week?”
So he is using the technology to schedule a wilderness outing? I am cool with that.
Until next time, be good to each other