Seeing Things

Long before I found the courage to wander in the woods alone, Lynda was walking in the woods. When we meet up, usually over random piles of paper at the local print shop, she is always excited to show me her recent photos—the ones she takes on her long walks along hidden paths in local woods.

She climbs trees and crouches to the ground. She crawls into hallowed-out trunks and sits patiently with frogs and robins’ eggs. She spends hours visiting the forest, getting to know the leaf, the insect, the moss.

Once, at a local fair, I bought a book called The Naturalist’s Path by Cathy Johnson. It’s a thoughtful reflection on the study and meditation of nature, and it always reminds me of Lynda.

It occurred to me to tell you about my friend recently, as I was yoga-bent under a sapling branch to snap a photo of a mushroom. There was a cobweb wrapped around my wrist and rain dripping down my back, and I knew I would not be seeing the world that way if she hadn’t traveled the path before me.

“It is said we are made up of everything we have ever seen, thought, felt, spoken, or done, and on the subconscious level, all of this becomes a permanent part of us, engraved on our grey cells forever. If this experience takes place in nature, we are much more than we were before, and the better for it.

– Cathy Johnson, The Naturalist’s Path

• • •

©2012, Jen Payne

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