Nature that left you feeling awed

Have you ever gone by a marsh at night, and heard the voices of frogs? Hundreds of frogs croaking, so that is all you can hear. The sound becomes deafing, but leaves you feeling at one with the land.

Have you been in the pines, with the geese coming back in the spring? They fly just above the tree tops, as they go for the water just beyond you. You hear woosh woosh woosh as each goose flies over you. The sound of each wing flap is heard. Skin tingling at least, as you are one with the land.

Have you hunted the mushroom, that is Wisconsin’s prize? The Morel with it’s earthy smell, and wonderful flavor. No chance of mistaking something else, for that mushroom called Morel. When Downy Yellow Violets grow the Morel is in it’s prime. Don’t forget to look around for Showy Orchis when Morels are found.

Living close to the boyhood home of John Muir I must add the Pasqueflower in it’s bloom.

My aunts property next to the park used to have the many Yellow Lady’s Slippers until the utility company cut under their lines, and sprayed Roundup.

Have you seen a group of gar fish going up the fox river, while up ahead dear await standing in the river. The same area holds a hatchery for turtles, and surprise, when there abouts, I find a Quail and about six offspring flush.

Well, this wasn’t a “close enough to touch or smell” experience but I was on an airliner oncegoing west and we hadn’t climbed too far yet. We flew OVER the Grand Canyon at about 8:00Am on a crystal clear , brightly sunny morning. You could look STRAIGHT DOWN into the Canyon. Now, I had seen it from the rim several times but I had never thought I’d see it from that angle. The colors, the shadows, the perspective, were just awesome.

Have you crossed a bog, to get to other side? Stepping where something growing spreads it roots,and adds support. The island in the marsh, that not many have ever seen. Tonight the sky shows Venus at her best, the Little and Big Dipper are currently to be seen. The constallation that I look for is of coarse The Whale.

One summer eve I saw the greatest show in the sky. Meteors burning about three or four a minute. I watched for half an hour.

One winter I saw a moon eclipse, and soon after a comet and it’s tail go slow across the sky. All within the same week, not the same night.

I’ve picked canberries, in natural wild bogs.

Gosh, all the time. Well, pretty often.

Last August, the annual Perseid meteor shower coincided with a northern lights display that reached all the way down to Iowa. Hubby and I watched it from the tailgate of his pickup, on a country road, with the crickets.

This past winter, driving home from work in an almost-blizzard, marveling at how quickly the snow piled up and awed at the blustery wind.

Just last week, driving to work, passing a small group of deer by the side of the road. (Alive.) Then crossing a bridge across the river, and watching about twenty more deer walking on the frozen water.

And all winter long, watching icicles form and melt and re-form and melt some more, and guessing how long they’d get before they fell off the eaves.

And pretty soon, the Good Lord willing, the crocuses will pop up out of the g#$%@& persnickin’ snow and spring will be here!!

My first winter in Utah. I was coming down a staircase at the University of Utah, and there before me was a wall of glass, allowing me an unbroken view of the Oquirrh Mountains to the West of Salt Lake City. They were covered with snow down to he Snow Line, just like you see in pictures of tall muntains. I was stunned. I had to stop and stare. It was absolutely gorgeous.

I’ve seen Pitcher Plants growing in the bog, with Arrow Arum, and Pink Lady’s slipers strewd about. The ground quivers as you cross the floating mat. Be careful or you’ll sink right through.

In Interstate Park the first State Park in Wisconsin,and shared with half in Minnesota, yoy find the deepest pot holes to explore.

In Wyalusing State Park you’ll find a dedication to the last seen Passenger Pigeon. The hills of the park offer the most exceptional assortment of flowers in the spring. The hills are steep, but worth the hike, if you are in good shape. A treasure of gold for fort Crawford is said to be buried in these bluffs. This park has many Indian mounds.

[ul][li]Standing on the top of Half Dome surveying the entire Yosemite valley. Looking over the edge of the highest and sheerest verticle natural precipice in the world.[/li]
[li]Laying in the tall grass on a summer’s day and watching the canopy of insects cruise by on their rounds.[/li]
[li]Watching the sky darken with the beating wings of ducks migrating along the Central Valley’s flyway.[/li]
[li]Encountering a log in Los Padres National Forest that appeared to be spray painted red. Only to find it was covered with tens of thousands of swarming lady bugs.[/li]
[li]Sitting on the confluence of a large river canyon the empties into the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. Suddenly the wind stilled completely. Up from the very bottom of the canyon, from a small patch of rapids thet were visible, comes the faint roar of the mighty river that can roll boulders the size of houses.[/li]
[li]Dozens of Ruby Throated hummingbirds feeding just feet from your face at my Aunt’s house in the Sierra Nevada foothills.[/li]
[li]Although man made to a degree, the Firefall in Yosemite National Park before air pollution was discovered.[/li]
[li]Indian Paintbrush blooming in Desolation Valley south of Lake Tahoe.[/li]
[li]Seeing an American Bald Eagle inbound at the Columbia River’s mouth on the Pacific Ocean clutching a Salmon in its talons.[/li]
[li]Standing next to the tallest tree in the world.[/li]
[li]Walking on Seven Mile Beach at Point Reyes National Seashore.[/li]
[li]Walking through the Hall of Mosses in the Olympic Rain Forest with every tree and square inch of ground festooned with 20-30 different kinds of moss.[/li]
[li]Seeing the Sierra Nevada foothills turn to solid gold with the blooming of California Poppies.[/li]
Looking out across a Planet Star Trek landscape with endless miles of utterly impassable convolute tortured ground in the Utah Canyon Lands.[/ul]

Walking in a dark thick forest. The ferns are almost as tall as you. Drop and nobody could find you.

I’ve walked trails from so long ago forgotten, that the trees I touched fell over.

Watched the fog move in to cover Lake Superior in less than five minutes. The ships disapearing from site. Seeing the cliffs of Split Rock Lighthouse in Minesotta, and knowing that the waves crashed over the cliffs hundreds of feet above the lake.

Traveled around the Apositle Islands and their cyrstal clear water.

I have been in a tornado, and lightning storm while ATVing. The giant old forests we had gone through took about two hours for about two miles. Trees were torn down at least every sixty feet. The roots stood about fifteen feet above ground. The trees were old growth. Roads were washed out, and at least six people were not found during the week we were still there.

We had turned around when it became apparent things where getting worse. The two miles back to the restraunt was bad. Trees had fallen on houses and on the trail. After one more hour at the restraunt we had to go the thirty miles back to our camp, that is when we had the two miles of hell to go through.

I laid on my back in the middle of the Saudi desert with no moon, the stars were brighter and more numerous than I had ever imagined. Big Sky. Small me.

A dozen times I watched as a rain squall moved toward me across the water. The smell and taste of rain was in the air as I saw it approach.

A ball lightning storm in South Dakota one summer night driving across I-90. Disney couldn’t come close.

[ul]
[li]Descending from the summit of Mount Shasta (14,162ft) one summer’s evening, I could see from one ridge all the way down to town and I-5 about 11,000ft below. We could see for 75-100 miles in every direction. And we could see all the way down the mountain. I was overwhelmed by my insignificance atop all that rock. I felt like an atom.[/li][li]Whale-watching from a boat out of Eureka, CA. Having Humpback whales impassively rolling past our boat was both thrilling and humbling. It didn’t hamper the effect to know that the whales were larger than our boat.[/li][li]Whale-watching from some bluffs at Shelter Cove, CA. I sat with a friend on the edge of some grassy bluffs as the sun was setting. We had a clear–almost 180-degree–view of the ocean, and at any given moment we could see at least four spouts of whales in a vast line–seemingly a highway of the great beasts–in the distance. It was a perfect sunset made into something more.[/li][li]On one backpacking trip in the Trinity Alps Wilderness of northern CA, my girlfriend and I were having breakfast when a few deer approached our camp. We kept perfectly still and silent (deer visual acuity is based on motion), they meandered through our camp, stopping to smell various items. I had one young buck less than two feet from me and I looked it right in the eye. We listened to them breathe, watched them paw their hooves around in the dirt as they checked out where we’d spilled a drink the night before.[/li][li]And then there was simply living in Redwood country (Humboldt County). Walking through an old growth area was humbling enough, but in one grove near the Humboldt/Del Norte county line, there were three trees that had grown up near each other. As they got big enough, their trunks merged and now are one huge trunk until they split into distinct trees again about fifty feet up. The base of the tree, on one particular axis, has to be about thirty to forty feet across.[/li][/ul]

Last spring, while I was canoeing on Kintla Lake in Glacier National Park (MT), a thunderstorm came up in literally 2 minutes. We were in just about the middle of the lake at the time, and it’s not small (long and narrow). It was breathtaking to watch the storm sweep from the far end of the lake toward our canoe with such speed; after it hit, of course, we were too busy furiously paddling our way through three-foot-high waves back toward the shore. Said shore being, regrettably, at the other end of the lake. Pretty crazy for about 15 minutes; we were drenched, but alive, in a crazed sort of way.

Rock-climbing in Shenandoah National Park. The cliff I was climbing was only a couple hundred feet high, but it was at an altitude of around 3,000 feet. It was foggy that morning, and during my climb the sun was beginning to burn through it. I got stuck a little over half-way up the rock face in a really awkward position; I was too high up to back down and there was nothing my belayers could do to help. I was caught for about 20 minutes, just clinging there with 8 finger tips and the toes of one foot. My arm and leg muscles were beginning to spasm and I was feeling desperate. Then I looked back behind me over the forest way down below, and it was the most beautiful view. The sky was now bright blue and the last bits of fog were gently wafting away over the tree tops. Filled me with peace. I’ll always remember that sight. (And btw, I made it to the top. :))

Another time – a canoeing trip on a warm summer evening in Southern MD. A full moon rose, and it was so big and round and yellow on the horizon. I love it when the moon does that. Can’t take my eyes off it.

Last week, I climbed up the last few steps to the very headwaters of Bee Branch in the Sipsey Wilderness Area. It had been drizzling cold, refreshing rain all morning. I was soaked to the skin, but happy. Surrounding me was a stretch of old-growth forest at the bottom of a canyon that is nothing less than magical. Ancient beech trees, gnarled, huge oaks, and tall, straight tulip poplars dominated the area, but were mixed in with truly strange Canadian hemlocks (relict from the last Ice Age.) Now, you Canadians and Northerners may not think this is at all strange, but consider that the place I’m speaking of is in Alabama, and the only reason Canadian hemlocks are here is that they are relics of when this part of the country was a boreal forest. Ahead of me was a large, mist-filled grotto perhaps 100 yards wide. It terminated in a perfect half-bowl of rock maybe 200 feet high. Gushing over the cliff were two separate waterfalls that splashed into a single pool at the bottom. This pool had a single outlet, and there began Bee Branch, way up in the wilderness, which flows into the Sipsey River, which flows into the Black Warrior River, which flows into the Tombigbee River, which joins up with the Alabama River just north of Mobile. Anyway, standing beside the pool way up in the headwaters is the great grand-daddy, the tree simply known as Big Tree. It’s a giant example of a tulip poplar, soaring out of the canyon, and standing like a massive guardian in the center of the grotto. It’s not nearly as big (~200 feet,) as big around (it would take 8-10 people to “hug” it,) or as old (somewhat greater than 500 years) as the redwoods or the bristlecone pines, but it was still gorgeous, with the top lost in the mist and the rain, and the bottom of the canyon covered with dripping ferns and brand-new, ready-to-burst trilliums.

Last summer, during a 100-plus degree day, a friend of mine and I went on a day hike to Conecuh National Forest in southern Alabama. We were hoofing along a path through the typical longleaf pine, sandy forest that predominates down there, intent on making our 16 miles for the day. We’d climb up and crest a hill covered with yucca and stunted oaks, then plunge down into the bottoms with the massive, buttressed water tupelo and pitcher plants. We suddenly happened upon a treasure. We saw the reflection of water through the trees, and soon we stood in the middle of a clearing, with a large, water-filled sinkhole in the middle. The sandy banks sloped gradually down, and there were giant cypresses standing around its edges. The knees reached up 2-3 feet, and Spanish moss was festooned from every branch. We could hear the coughing of alligators, and sneaking up to the edge of the pond, we could see a large population of them had taken up residence there. We delightedly sat down for lunch, and ate while a sudden downpour cooled us off.

Also last summer, the same friend and I went to the Great Smoky Mountains to do some hiking. We were in for some climbing, we knew. We ended up hiking along a high, hemlock-covered ridge, then plunging 2000 feet to the bottom of the mountain, then climbing another 1500 feet to the top of Chimney Tops, a mountain with a spectacular 360 degree view of the rest of the park, and a 50 foot near-vertical climb at the top to get to the vantage point. We sat there, drinking in the sight, when she looked down and pointed out that we were sitting above a kettle of hawks, maybe 20-30 of them, joyfully wheeling in an updraft.

A few years ago, I was SCUBA diving with my brother at St. Andrew’s, near Panama City, Florida. We had just gotten out past the surf, and we dove to 20 or 30 feet to see what was on the bottom. The water cleared up nicely, and I was able to see for quite some distance. I was poking around, avoiding sea urchins, when I felt a tug on my fin. I looked around. It was my brother, motioning me to follow him. He led me to a large, flat rock on the bottom. Giving me the signal to watch him, he took out his dive knife, and gently inserted the tip into the opening under the rock. Suddenly, a gray tentacle lashed out and wrapped around the blade and his wrist. It scared the bejeezus out of me, but I could tell that my brother was smiling. He tugged ever so gently (no need to hurt the critter, after all,) and pulled out an octopus with tentacles about a foot long. The octopus scooted up his arm and rode there for the next few minutes, looking for all the world like a hitch-hiker. It finally let go after it got bored. It still fills me with awe (and makes me chuckle) to think about that.

Standing on the boardwalk, hurricane somewhere out there, destination still a mystery. What beauty it is to see the ocean angry. The mist spraying your face. What a rush it is to feel the power of our mother ocean…

Interesting this was brought up. My college is right on the ocean here in Southern Maine, and I just drove to the beach earlier this afternoon. We had that big Nor’Easter yesterday, and the waves were MONSTROUS. It was so amazing and terrifying and beautiful…just these huge dark green walls of icy water constantly plummeting forward. The sound itself was amazing. Then all over the beach there were gorgeously sculpted snowdrifts, some well over my head. Absolutely beautiful. I took some great pictures…can’t wait to develop them! :slight_smile:

I lay on the granite ledge about thirty feet from the top of the bluff. The thermals are active, and no people are around. The Turkey Vultures are circling on the thermals. They pass within a few feet at times, above me or below.

The Meiji gardens.
I want it to be my final resting place. If it wasn’t completely out of the question, I would make it that too.

I was Down Under a couple of years ago and spent a few days at Ayers Rock Resort. They have a dinner called The Sounds of Silence. You are driven a couple of miles into the desert in a luxury coach, and when you arrive you are handed a glass of champagne. You sip champagne while watching the sun set and listening to a didgeridoo, then you sit down to a dinner under the stars. After the meal, an astronomer shows you the stars and constellations, and you realize you have to be in the middle of a desert to see the stars that bright. Then getting to look at a globular cluster through a telescope can make you feel very, very small. If you are ever in the area, you don’t want to miss the experience.

A couple of days earlier, watching water pour down the face of the rocks of Kata Tjuta and seeing a rainbow arching across the face of the four main rock masses.

Creeping along in Custer State Park in South Dakota behind some bison calves that didn’t want to get off of the road and suddenly realizing that there was a bison bull coming up beside my car on the left and I could just reach out the window and touch him.

I’m a real city boy myself, but I have to say, last October I was in Vermont at a ski resort for an Esperanto congress, and the night sky was unbelievable. You could see Everything. A fellow Esperantist was good enough to bring his telescope. (“Kaj tio estas Saturno. Jen la ringoj… kaj vi povas vidi la lunojn de Jupitero.”)

Why out of the question? Of course it takes cremation and a sneaky accomplice who outlives you. The whole garden could be your “resting place”.

A sappy parent thing, but…

When my boys were born. Little squalling, goo-covered people. Two tiny cells come together and cook. Everthing splits and divides and grows all by itself. Then you get this…person. It’s weird and wonderfull at the same time. The ego says “I did that and it’s perfect” while your brain asks “How the Hell did that happen? It’s perfect.”

It’s not the “big” that makes Nature overwhelming. It’s how it all fit together and makes you see “yeah, this is right”.
Being in the butt end of nowhere, looking around and seeing nothing. It gets dark and the stars come out. The heavens open up and the “nothing” is enough.