I should forewarn you, I’m not a professional photographer. Discounting basic school courses, I don’t have training in a field of science. I’m just an observer, a notetaker, so to speak. So, anything you take from this blog should be informative, but certainly not considered authoritative. The intention for this blog, in its better days, is to serve as a modern nature journal, a record of my wanderings.
I admit, I have not been very adventuresome in my wanderings. This is a bustling area. Most of the areas I visit are well-used. Outdoor recreation is a prime selling point for Portland. There are nearly a few hundred parks within Portland’s city limits alone, not to mention it’s near Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge, as well as Mt. St. Helens and the coast. Wherever you go, you never seem to be far from another person or perfect cell phone reception.
When I walk, the greatest moments of pleasure come when I don’t see another soul. Minutes pass and there is only me and the business of the woods. I would call it quiet, but anyone who has listened to a forest, knows it is anything but quiet. A moment to reflect on what is happening around me, and be at peace.
There is a great difference between being alone and feeling loneliness. I have often pondered whether animals have a sense of loneliness. Animals often lead solitary lives. The tiny hummingbird that guards his territory with such ferocity, or the mountain lion on patrol, slipping silently along the miles of his invisible borders. A few times a year they are compelled to interact with one of their own, producing another, relegated to the same fate. Do these animals feel lonely?
Or, perhaps, they have flourishing social lives. Their conversations are just passing, held over many years. Any creature that can remember the way home from several thousand miles away, must have a very good memory. Who are we to know?
Perhaps they know that they are integral in the parts they play. That their solitary existence is not a curse, but a blessing. Or, simply, a way of life. Like pioneers, they forge into the unknown, stake a claim and take from it the necessities of life. Loneliness has no definition to them. Once they find what they need to subsist, they are sated. This is their peace.
One of William Wordsworth’s poem’s begins, “the world is too much with us; late and soon”. There is something to be said for a moment of peace in the woods. The early morning sun slanting gently ahead on the path. The breeze riffling the leaves. A menagerie of chickadees, sparrows and juncos twittering among themselves. Maybe you can make out the static-like buzz of a single hummingbird, perched on the highest denuded branch. He is not alone. This is not alone. This is connected. There is a purpose here, even if it is as an observer.
Anna’s hummingbird, wet in the spring
“I hope I learned something from knowing intimately the creatures of the earth; I hope I learned something from looking a long way, from looking up, from being much alone.” ~ Wallace Stegner, Coda: Wilderness Letter