Home Notes From The Field Close To Nature

Close To Nature

by John Gentile

At the posting of this writing, we are in the second week of the Covid-19 self-quarantine and practice of social distancing.

The other day, I decided to get out of the house and get some exercise by fast-walking up Pima Canyon. I once ran this canyon, but age, multiple ankle sprains over the years, and a small growth on my vestibular nerve now limit my careening over the rocks like a bighorn. I thought this would be a great way to get some fresh air and still maintain my part of social distancing. Never a fan of large aggregations of people, I figured a fast hike to my favorite location followed by a bit of meditation time would be just the antidote for cabin fever. Imagine my surprise and dismay when I arrived at the canyon to find the parking lot full and cars lined up on either side of the road for a quarter of a mile. As I started on my hike, I quickly realized that it is very difficult to practice the safe distance buffer of 6 feet on a narrow trail. Many of the hikers who were coming down were not respecting the recommended safe distance to avoid  transmission of the coronavirus. So, I found myself quickly diverting off the main trail to make space for myself and them.

When I finally arrived at my destination, I checked the entrance of the small glen to see if there were any other people in there. I was in luck; I had the place to myself. I found my favorite meditation rock, tucked in between two ancient live oaks. I checked my pulse, and checked out. It took several minutes to get into the zone, but  soon my senses heightened and I was enveloped in a sea of sounds, smells, and sights. A loud buzzing around my head informed me that a carpenter bee was attracted to the sweat on my arms.  In the past, wasps have landed on my arms, searching for a salty drink, but never stinging me. Upon opening my eyes, I caught a slight movement on the scaled trunk of an old cottonwood, newly leafing out. A moment later, I was able to discern a cryptic ornate tree lizard moving up the trunk in search of insects. The creek gurgled incessantly in the background, creating a conversation of its own. All around, the smell of new growth filled my nostrils and I felt my pulse slow even more. A male Anna’s hummingbird flitted in front of my face, hanging suspended, as it attempted to momentarily study the strange creature before it.  For 33 years from this rock, I have been visited by an an amazing array of wildlife, from Mexican spotted owls perched above me, to Cooper’s hawks foraging at my feet, to the largest hog-nosed skunk I have ever seen, walking past me through the glen.

Once again, I was reminded to learn to be still. When I donature comes closer and even the smallest of things brings me closer to a state of grace.

Stay safe everyone!


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