A WALK IN THE WOODS
wake in a comfortable country cottage in the English countryside. I get up, the
kid gets up, and we decide to go for a walk in the woods before breakfast.
Walking, walking, walking we go, sometimes skipping and running, always looking
at things: the birds, the flowers, the trees. We love the trees. They’re
so big and so green. And the smells. We smell the freshness in the air. We
smell the trees and the hint of fragrance from the not too distant gardens in
full bloom. We see birds and squirrels and butterflies and moths and
caterpillars and spiders and bugs we don’t know the names of. We spot a
deer deep in the woods who stands still as a statue and watches us from a
distance, seemingly safe and secure. We see hills in the distance, rolling off
into never-neverland. They go on forever, coated in green with patches of trees
and bushes. We jump for joy to see the woodpeckers, hearing them first and then
following the sound of the work being done.
is that special place? That place where we can sit quietly and watch the nest
of little blue robin eggs being tended to by their mother. There it is. We are
so close to them. We have to be very, very quiet to watch.
creep off and walk some more. It is so quiet yet there is so much to listen to.
The birds. The slight breeze slipping through branches and leaves. It feels so
good to be out in the cool air with the sun warming us.
come to the lake, hidden from most views. There is a stillness. It is a small
lake. I can throw a stone to the other side, and when I do, I hear a rustling
over there. At the edge of the lake there are a couple of big bullfrogs making
their big sounds. One hops into the water right away. The other waits as we
stop and listen. The frog begins to perform for us.
all of a sudden he bursts into a wonderful full tenor voice. Operatic. He is
singing an aria. It’s “Che Gelida Manina” from “La
Boheme.” he’s singing it to another frog we hadn’t noticed.
He has a beautiful voice: big and clear and expressive, and sings with much
clarity and feeling. The frog sings his heart out and the object of his desire
seems enchanted, listening and reacting attentively.
singing attracts a crowd: more frogs, a rabbit, and yes, there’s a
squirrel. They come closer and watch and seem to be transfixed by his singing.
Soon a robin, then a sparrow, then a blue jay, cardinal, and crow land nearby
and watch. He responds to their attentiveness with even more impassioned
crooning, which draws more and more of an audience: deer, more rabbits, a
turtle emerging out of the water. Even some fish seem to suspend themselves at
the lake’s edge to listen. There’s a long garter snake keeping his
distance but slowly slithering closer to get a better view.
whole area seems enchanted with this beautiful song and when the frog reaches
that final delicate passage and ends in a humble bow with eyes closed, there is
first absolute silence. I’d
never heard silence in the forest before. And then an eruption of noise. All
the animals doing what they could to acknowledge the frog’s moving
performance. The snake lifting his head as high as he can, darting his tongue
in and out as quickly as possible. The fish jumping out of the water, making
the biggest splashes they can. The rabbits beating their paws together while
hopping high and doing somersaults. The squirrels wagging their tails and
cracking nuts. The turtle craning his neck and swinging his head around in a
big circle. The birds - all of them singing and chirping, some flapping their
wings in appreciation. And the deer gently stomping their front hooves on the
ground of leaves and pine needles. We join in with hoots and hollers and
sight and sound of all this is certainly unusual but somehow seems completely
normal. The frog keeps his eyes closed for a long time while this barrage of
appreciation and gratitude goes on. When he opens them, everyone quiets down
and slowly goes on their ways, back into the water, the grass, the woods, the
trees, the sky, and the ground. The two frogs are quickly left alone with each
other. They look fondly into each other’s eyes, and hop off together,
ribbiting away as only frogs can.
delighted by this unexpected spectacle, we decide it’s time to head back
to the house. What more could we expect on our early morning walk? We make our
way back to the main path and start back with a little hesitation, quickly
overcome by the thought of breakfast. We know the forest will be here later in
the day and tomorrow morning, and who knows what will await us then? What
wonderful sites will we stumble upon?
pick a few purple and yellow wildflowers for the table, and skip a bit on the
way back, arriving home awake, alive, happy, and looking forward to a big
breakfast of blueberry pancakes.