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Being Still: Fidgety Nature Falls Away in the Woods

A-photo-of-Colleen-NewquistThe old Lakota was wise. He knew that man’s heart away from nature becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans too. So he kept his youth close to its softening influence. – Chief Luther Standing Bear

I have a hard time being still. Ask anybody who spends time in a meeting with me. I fidget, rock in my chair, twiddle my pen. Even relaxing in conversation, I sit with legs crossed, foot tapping in the air, changing positions frequently, shifting in my chair.

I prefer entertaining to being a guest because I like being active – cooking, serving, cleaning up. It sometimes can be excruciating for me to sit while a host is doing all the work.

And yet, when I put my mind to it, I’m really good at … being still. I spent years as an artist’s model in my late teens and early 20s, able to hold a pose for a half hour, until my limbs were numb and aching.

Now, nearly 50, stillness comes easily in nature. It’s as if all the fidgety-ness of day-to-day life drains out through my soles as I walk a mile into the woods to Owl Lake, a body of water the size of a pond in the Thorn Creek Nature Preserve. There I can sit for an hour at the mossy water’s edge, being silent and still, as still as the lake itself, watching frogs watching me, dragonflies dancing across the water, the head and tail of a turtle momentarily breaking the surface, later appearing to lumber up the side of a fallen tree trunk.

Owl Lake 

I wait in vain to see a heron, like the one I caught of glimpse of in the morning stepping silently along the creek at the bottom of our hill. No big birds appear, but I get a close look at a spider perched next to me, a dragonfly that seems to pose for my camera, a grasshopper that I chase around a fence post trying to capture his image, and a beautiful butterfly flitting around the parking lot when I get back to my car.

Spider

 Dragonfly

Grasshopper 

Butterfly 

Walking the trail back, I spot nearly rectangular holes in a tree trunk from what I think must be a pileated woodpecker and hope to spot one, but no, not today. Not yet. Not ever, so far.

WoodpeckerHoles 

But I know they’re here. And I will be back to this place many times. This place that feeds my spirit. This place that soothes my soul.

I can be patient.

I can be silent.

I can.

Be.

Still.

nebraska dave
9/29/2010 5:52:24 PM

@Colleen, those sweet spots of nature are a special place for nurturing the soul. They are place to stop and smell the roses. When I find a spot like that, I stop and intentionally enjoy the surroundings. I soak in all the sights, sounds, and smells. It seems to happen more often now that I can recognize when I’m in one of those places. In my younger days I would plow through those spots without a hesitation because there were places to go, things to do, and people to meet. Now, places, things, and people can wait a bit while I enjoy a special place that refreshes the body, mind, and spirit. Of course being older and retired may have a little bit to do with having more time to enjoy things as a whole. There are still things that try to gobble up my time but I’m past the age when some of those things are just not worth the time or the effort. You have indeed grabbed a hold of one of the special things in life that can be enjoyed or past by. I say enjoy it while we can. Water in general has a way of calming the emotions. The sight, sound, and smell of water just feels good to be around it. I know I certainly like to be around lakes, water falls, streams, or even fountains. I hope you have many more times at the pond before the snow flies. Have a great day.