Living Intimately With Nature


Missy was just resting. I’m sure with her lame hind leg that she gets especially tired and sore walking the lumpy grounds of the big pasture, carrying all that extra weight. Can she get any heavier?


I spent lots of time today walking and paddling the river; still no osprey but plenty of Belted Kingfishers, blackbirds, sparrows, robins, and Yellow-rumped Warblers. At one point while kayaking I drifted silently downstream and came upon a pair of Wood Ducks, and-most cool of all-a Sora (small, secretive wading bird) flew right across the path of my boat, not 15 feet in front of me. I hear these shy marsh fowl often at the ranch but rarely see them. The Sora disappeared in the nearby reeds that are now flooded. I paddled to the shore and held onto the branches of a willow to wait quietly for it to show itself. There wasn’t any place really to hide and I was less than 10 feet from where I’d seen it land, so I was dismayed and impatient after 6 or 7 minutes of waiting. I decided it must have flown off while I blinked or something so I decided to leave. Because the reeds were flooded I was able to push my little watercraft up into them before heading out into the main flow of water and as I neared the spot I thought the Sora had landed I was granted the privilege of seeing it step out from under a bunch of bent, dried reeds that had formed a sort of small cave for the Sora. It would have been standing in knee-deep (for a Sora) water all that time. As it flew upstream-wings beating shallow and fast, dragging 5 inches of legs and web feet beneath it-I realized I’d just been shown one of the secret hiding spots of this weary bird. The marshes all around here are riddled with little huts and dwellings made from bent and mashed cattails,, grasses, and reeds so when they aren’t marching about hunting and courting on top of these floating island of vegetation, surrounded by thick towers of standing protection, they are most likely huddled in these shallow tents where no person or predator would predict them to be.


I could go out on dozens of birding expeditions each year with groups from town and never get to see nature so intimately in its perfection as I do here in the Yamsi valley. Living at the ranch, where one isn’t necessarily actively observing nature but living integrally as part of it every moment, allows me to witness the extraordinary, interconnected details of it every day that I’m here.

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