Monday, October 15, 2012

The Bicycle in the Woods


When I was younger, I thought life would never be complete if I didn't do a lot of traveling in Europe and elsewhere around the globe; that it would at some point have to include riding a bicycle down a winding country road in Italy to a small village where I would stop at the market for fresh bread. Or, I would wake up in a canopied bed somewhere in the south of France with fields of lavender outside my window, far as the eye can see. Or, some morning I would find myself having breakfast in a canvas-covered tent with a giraffe looking over my shoulder on the plains of the Serengeti.  None of which I've yet to do. The wonderful thing I've discovered is that I don't have to do those things. I've done those things in my mind's eye and, having done so, something has come alive that cannot fade away: life can be well-lived right where I'm at.

Just a few days ago, I watched as a black squirrel made its way across the lawn again and again to hide acorns in the ground below the bird feeder. I suppose that seemed like a good place to hide them. He dug a little hole by scratching the dirt away, dropped the nut inside, then took his little paws and covered his cache, smoothed out the dirt and then fluffed the grass ( he actually fluffed the grass!), so as to hide it from others. Then, he brushed the dirt from his hands, literally, and then went back for another round of finding and hiding. I had never witnessed this before and found it absolutely fascinating. Do you see? I would not have been able to witness that if I was riding a bicycle in Tuscany, or sleeping soundly in Provence. I would be experiencing other things, but not that thing. And that thing was a thing of beauty - so simple, yet profound!

In a way, the world has come to my door. It's not the one I expected but it is the one I needed, the one that has brought me immeasurable peace.


"If I could give you one key, and one key only to a more abundant life, I would give you a sense of your own worth, an unshakable sense of your own dignity as one grounded in the source of the cosmic dance, as one who plays a unique part in the unfolding of the story of the world."

~ Greta Crosby




The photograph is mine.

44 comments:

  1. Haha ~ how cute! We were both being entertained by little squirrels. You are right on the fact that there are always lovely things to discover right around us. No need to always travel to some place other than home!

    Wonderful Teresa!
    xo Catherine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And we posted, as I mentioned, almost simultaneously. A nice "serendipity."

      Delete
  2. What an interesting observation of that squirrel. They are smart little guys. But the point behind all this is well taken: that life is lived wherever we are, fully or not depends on us. Beautifully written. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "...fully or not depends on us." All we have to do is open our eyes. Thank you, Jan.

      Delete
  3. A wonderful insight, Teresa, and an equally wonderful piece of writing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Absolutely true. I try always to be observant everywhere I am. I certainly wish I had seen the squirrel - I have never seen one burying nuts but I find them delightful and graceful to watch whatever they are doing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was so entrancing, and I had front row seats! :)

      Delete
  5. Exactly!

    If one wants a bit of variety/adventure and you can't not travel if that is a criteria for that - then it's the world around you that is yours to explore.

    Like the bull snake that made a distinct noise as it slid down a hole in front of me just the other day. Probably from its scales as it slid over the hard edge combined with the hole as well. I was surprised for sure. It ain't much but it's stuff like this that makes it go around here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The world around us is ours to explore, absolutely true. That snake encounter sounds intriguing an entertaining. To hear it sliding, what a great thing to experience.

      Delete
  6. those simple moments are what I look for often

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You certainly do, Steve, and I'm glad you share them with us.

      Delete
  7. I have no desire to travel either, I travel in my mind if I want to, less hassle!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Less hassle, especially so now. :( There are so many wonderful things to see right where we are and some pretty great ways to experience the world without leaving home.

      Delete
  8. Your wonderful post reminds me of a quote that is very meaningful for me.
    I can't center the words but here it is:

    Do we need to make a special effort to enjoy the blue sky? Do we have to practice to be able to enjoy it? No, we just enjoy it.

    Each second, Each minute of our lives can be like this. Wherever we are, any time, we have the capacity to enjoy the sunshine, the presence of each other, even the sensation of our breathing.

    We don’t need to go to China to enjoy the blue sky. We don’t have to travel into the future to enjoy our breathing.

    We can be in touch with these things right now.

    ~Thich Nhat Hanh

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have often found his words very encouraging and inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing them here. A perfect addition to my post. Thank you, John.

      Delete
  9. Rejoicing in the everyday is a great gift. But hearing the howls and growls during a warm African night sounds pretty darn good too. I haven't been to France, Italy or Africa....yet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Africa still calls more than all else, but so many creatures here to notice and listen to every day. I've enjoyed your posts around your travels and the photos to illustrate. Costa Rica sounds and looks very inviting.

      Delete
  10. it's all around us always, isn't it? and how often do we miss it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm learning, every day, to be a better listener and to really open my eyes. It takes practice. Thanks for your comment, t. I hope your week is off to a very good start.

      Delete
  11. You are a mind reader, Teresa. I've been thinking these thoughts, knowing the likelihood of world travel is nil and embracing the side roads of life and the living that goes on just outside my door. That is an amazing photo of life's possibilities and the quote, well, another one for my commonplace book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Penny, We so often seem to be "tracking" each other's thoughts and I can't tell you how happy that makes me, how connected it makes me feel. Everyone should embrace that quote, knowing it was written just for them. :)

      Delete
  12. I was lucky enough to travel around some of Europe when I was 24, and I enjoyed nearly every day of it. But I can't say it changed me as much as my family's humble lake cabin, where I came to feel totally at peace in nature. Now the only travel I crave is the annual drive to our rented cabin, which is within a stone's throw of you, I believe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I believe it is. It's such a beautiful area, our land of 10,000 lakes. There is nothing quite like nature to help us achieve that perfect peace. Thank you, Nancy.

      Delete
  13. I love your observation about the world coming to your door. I have lived and traveled all over the world, but I've never been happier than right here in my own back yard. Love the squirrel image--fluffing grass! Do they remember where all those acorns are??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. His motions were so "human," it was astonishing. It's my understanding that they do remember. Amazing, isn't it?

      Delete
  14. I can watch squirrels and birds for hours. Best of all, I can do it in the comfort of my own home near everything I hold dear--what could be better than that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have front row seats, too! Isn't it fun?

      Delete
  15. Replies
    1. Thank you, Bob. Hope life's feeling good for you.

      Delete
  16. We don't have to travel too far across this earth to find a place of fascination, do we!

    ReplyDelete
  17. You are exactly right, Teresa Evangeline. We can travel far or we can travel deep, and while I don't regret one minute of my "far traveling", I feel the call of the deep these days.

    I was making myself miserable for a while with envy and regret - so many people I know now are making those trips to Provence and Peru. But tonight, I'm sitting with cool air and falling rain, listening to music I love and the music of a purring kitty - and I'm happy. Some would say I shouldn't be - but what do they know?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "The call of the deep" is really a nice way to phrase it. Your description of your evening sounds so peaceful, and what could possibly be better than that kind of contentment?

      One of the best things about having all these years of experience is being able to make choices that are exactly right for ourselves, without concern for what others might think about them.

      Thanks for commenting, Linda.

      Delete
  18. How true, the greatest beauty can often be found in the simplest of things.. and our lives may not turn out the way we imagined them they would.. but they do turn out the way they were supposed to. Beautiful, thought provoking post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kitty! How fun to hear from you again. I trust your mis-posting didn't create too much of a backlash. :) Yes, things turn out the way they were supposed to. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

      Delete
  19. Dear Teresa, your hard-won wisdom reaches across the miles from central Minnesota to here. The following words speak so loudly and clearly of the deep center of peace that now resides within you: "In a way, the world has come to my door. It's not the one I expected, but it is the one I needed, the one that has brought me immeasurable peace."

    And thanks for sharing the story of your neighborhood squirrel. I've never seen that event before either. Now I will begin to keep my eyes open. Peace.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, it's taken me a while to arrive at this place. It feels so good. The world right outside my door offers endless opportunity to witness life at its best.

      Delete
  20. Mother nature constantly performs great feats that we can observe every minute of the day if we so choose - barbara

    ReplyDelete
  21. Black squirrels in Minnesota?! Cool! When I was a Mpls teenager (and briefly ran away to Canada) I saw them for the first time in Toronto. They are mesmerizing to me!

    I never had the dreams of travel like you did. But I've always been able to imagine it with books and documentaries and movies. Even traveling through time, too. I did most of my traveling in the charting of my own confusing inner landscape. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rita, Yes, a few black squirrels in my yard and I've seen others nearby. They're such fun to watch.

      You have such a captivating way with words, dear friend. Our inner landscapes can often be quite confusing and challenging, but this, as you so well know, is part of the beautiful mystery of life. You inspire me.

      Delete
  22. We would all be so happy if we would look for our hearts desire within the perimeters of our lives. It's all there... No need to go in search of other gifts, we only need to look out our window and see the squirrel readying for winter.
    "The whole of life lies in the verb SEEING."
    ~Teilhard de Chardin~

    Lovely post...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is all about seeing, truly seeing right where we are, full of endless possibilities.

      Thank Connie. I love the perspective of Teilhard de chardin.

      Delete