A Short Walk
I watched the small bird flit about in the winter naked shrub, the ruddy colored bird chirped and fluttered, absorbed in the day. I had a short time to go for
a walk and get back to work. Our winter has brought plenty of fog and rain, an overall dreary condition. Boots on, soon out through the gate and up the muddy road. The fog confined the visibility to one elephant length.
My thoughts as I stroll, feet squishing in the damp, soft road, rain pattering down on my hat and hood, stray to a morning in Manas and walking up on an elephant in the morning mist. Now there was no chance of such meeting
as the nearest wild elephant is 12,000 miles distant. Instead, I stop to watch an English sparrow working at an early nest in a leaf bare wild rose bush. Hard to imagine what the sparrow’s ancestors went through to nest aboard a sailing vessel during colonization
and then procreate to the point of eco-niche domination. Our home is more than five hundred miles from the coast, yet here are English sparrows, more native to London than Montana. I hope the glossy black-eyed bird enjoyed the weather and I wondered if English
sparrow’s become homesick during periods of fog. I ambled on.
A neighbor has an old rundown building on their property and as I slogged passed, I heard the pulsing sound of wings. Somewhere, overhead, pigeons flexed muscles, which drove feathered wings on their midwinter outing. Pigeons
found Montana in the same means and time as the English sparrow. How many winged above? I reached the end of the lane and turned back for home. The fog remained thick and the mountains, which are our neighbors, only existed in memory beyond the gloom. Watching
the mud because there was little else to see, I spied a tiny set of footprints, later my animal track guide revealed these were the tracks of a meadow vole. Voles hibernate in winter; they sleep with lower respiratory rate until genetic instinct wakes them
in time for spring. This little creature was awake about two months early. I wake up sometimes at night if I am hungry or too warm, so it would look as if the same for this small meadow creature.
Adventure ended; with great care, I removed my boots before I could soil our nest. I returned to work feeling refreshed from my exciting activity and my chance to share the world with other living
things. Too often, we think of adventure as taking place far from home in some dangerous and exotic locale in pursuit of a lofty goal or ambition. Adventure is all around, more a state of mind, a yearning for the unusual, the different, and a respite from
our daily calendar. My walk in the fog convinced me that nature’s other creatures take breaks as they further their lives. I vow to remember my lesson taught by the winter day. Cheers.
( Photo: Fog In Gurgaon Winter 2006-Susan Sharma)