I’ve visited a number of caves over the years and as I sit here thinking about it there is one question that stands out.
That question is, “Why? Why did I go to all of those caves?”
I don’t like caves. I didn’t enjoy any of them. In fact, I was quite nervous the whole time I was in them. The idea of being far below the surface with all those tons of rock over my head gave me a case of “the willies.”
For someone who gets creeped out by caves I have gone through a lot of them. Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Diamond Cave in Arkansas, and Cave of the Winds in Colorado. And in Texas I’ve visited Natural Bridge Caverns and Wonder Cave.
Now I will admit most of those caves were beautiful, but as I said, they were nerve wracking for me.
No more! Give me a nice and reasonably well lit nature trail through a forest and I’m happy.
During the years I lived in the Dallas area my favorite spot to go on my days off was a neat little place in Oklahoma, not very far past the state line.
It’s called Turner Falls. The waterfall there is simply beautiful. There are lots of hiking trails and things to explore.
Adventures? Oh yeah, and on one visit I managed to have one that was typical. I was photographing the creek considerably below the falls and decided I wanted to get a view from the middle of the creek. It was rather shallow and I found a place where I could step on several large rocks and actually be right in the middle of the flow without getting wet.
As I stood there, intent on focusing my camera, a splash of cold creek water hit my right ankle. Without thinking I quickly moved my foot. My balance was already precarious and that sudden movement resulted in my rear-end landing in the icy cold water of the creek. The people who were watching said they had never seen such wild scrambling to get back to dry land. I wasn’t hurt but from the waist down I was wet and miserable.
By the way, just as I plopped into the creek I accidentally clicked the shutter. The resulting picture was of my left foot just as it hit the water.
That was the first and last time I ventured into the middle of a creek with a camera.
One summer when I was still quite young my mother and dad took my sister and I to San Antonio.
I had gotten my very own Kodak Brownie camera for Christmas and I was going to finally get to really try it out.
We visited all of the tourist spots and historic places. The Alamo, the rose window at Mission San Jose, the Chinese Sunken Gardens at Breckenridge Park, and the Buckhorn Saloon.
But the river walk appealed to me most of all. It instantly became my favorite place. We walked the entire length of it, crossed a footbridge and walked back to where we had started. After re-crossing the river we had dinner at the Casa Rio.
A few days ago I came across some of the pictures I took there with my Brownie Camera on 127 black and white Verichrome film. Some of them were considerably better than what I produce today with my fancy digital outfit.
Note: The image below is from the internet…not from my Brownie camera.
Here’s a kind of funny thing that happened a few years ago.
I was working a part time job on weekends as a front desk clerk at one of the timeshare resorts. It was a rather small complex as timeshares go. It was a quiet Sunday and since the weather was quite agreeable I decided to sit on the deck just outside of the office and enjoy nature.
As I quietly sat there I happened to notice a large ant scurrying across the other side of the deck from me. I said, “Hello brother ant. Beautiful day, isn’t it?” And the ant stopped, then turned toward me. It sat still for a few moments, then took a few steps in my direction. I said, “Fear not, I am not one of those who would squash you.” The ant then retraced its steps and continued in the direction it had been traveling.
I watched it as it moved to the end of the deck and onto a low retaining wall. It soon came to a crack in the wall and stopped. Momentarily another ant, a smaller one, appeared and they both came back in my direction. When they arrived across the deck from where I was sitting, the little ant stopped but the big one came forward just like before. The little ant stayed put. Again, I spoke quietly to the ant. It moved forward again and got to within about an inch of my foot.. Then it stopped and just looked at me for awhile. I didn’t receive any communication but I had the impression that the big ant was showing the little ant that I was a trusted friend.
Suddenly the ant turned around and walked back to rejoin the little ant. They both went back to the crack in the wall and disappeared. I didn’t see either of them after that.
He was a golden eagle. A grand example of the species.
At least that was true from his outward appearance.
But this eagle had a secret. He had a tremendous fear of high places. The very thought of soaring far above the land and riding the winds filled him with such a dread that he would shake uncontrollably.
Just hours before his birth his mother had an unexpected encounter with some turbulent air from a nearby 747. It caused her to go into free fall and she was barely able to pull out in time to keep from hitting the ground. The experience had a major effect on her nerves. Unfortunately this was transmitted to her soon to be born eaglet.
As he grew into into adulthood and began to seek his mate this fine looking eagle found his fear of flying to be a source of great anxiety. How would the mother of his offspring react to his problem?
He found out quite soon. As they searched for the perfect place to build their nest he kept choosing spots very close to the ground. When she asked him what he had against the top of the tall pines he finally had to tell her about his phobia. After he finished she shook her head and said it was just her luck to fall in love with a penguin in eagle’s feathers.
But they adapted. She let him choose a nesting place that was on the side of a mountain. It was behind a big pine tree but on the ground. Papa eagle concluded that technically it was already high in the air so it wouldn’t be necessary for him to fly.
When they had their eaglets he became quite adept at scurrying about the floor of the forest to procure food.
His mate called him the fastest “chicken” on the earth.
I stand on the bank of the river watching the cold water flow by. The overcast sky and the snow on the ground combine with the dark water to present a mostly colorless world of white, black, and assorted shades of gray.
Most would call it a dreary scene and for a moment I feel a wave of intense loneliness and melancholy. So much unhappiness in the world. Such bitterness and hate. So much misery. What a sad state of affairs.
I am suddenly jolted out of my reverie by an icy blast of wind blowing down the canyon. “Wake up…wake up,” it seems to say. “Look around you! Open your eyes!” I look closer at the surrounding scene. Even in its nearly black and white mode I realize I am still in the presence of the endless beauty of God’s Creation. It fills me with its happy sights and sounds. The chuckling river. The whistling of the wind as blows through the tall pine trees.
I feel a rush of energy and love lift me up. I also feel chilled. The wind is getting colder and flurries of snow begin. I pick up a small rock from the edge of the river and gently touch it to my cheek. I carefully replace it and make haste to return to the car. The storm is arriving early and I must leave here quickly for the road will soon be closed by snow.
I’m sitting under the Weeping Willow tree and enjoying the pleasant coolness of the moment. A gentle breeze occasionally stirs the low-hanging leaves. It’s nice and quiet here. No cars around. No blaring radios nor televisions. No airplanes roaring overhead. Nobody knows I’m here under this tree but God and He will surely keep it a secret.
I often hear words from the ministers about heaven on earth but it’s obvious that we haven’t arrived there yet. Not even close. But from a personal viewpoint this spot where I’m sitting is a good example of how it could be. Total peace and contentment in the moment.
We could all have this kind of existence or something similar if we worked at it a bit. But each of us has to decide to make the transition. No one can do it for us. Each of us can have our own version of heaven on earth without interfering with the vision of our brothers and sisters.
Sitting under this Weeping Willow I figure I’m doing my part in bringing about heaven on earth now. If you haven’t already, I hope you will start on your own version soon.
We were driving west along a state highway in northern California. Just kind of staying alert enough to keep the car aimed in the right direction. The scenery was nice and green and hilly but nothing spectacular. We had driven the same road countless times.
All of a sudden my wife said, “Now that’s strange!”
I glanced over at her and saw that she was looking intently out the window at something.
“Hey,” she said. “Can you pull the car over and stop on the shoulder?”
I pulled over and asked, “What’s up?”
“The water in that creek. It’s flowing in the wrong direction. We’re going downhill but it’s going uphill”
Sure enough the creek, which should have been flowing in the same direction we were traveling, was now flowing in the opposite direction. We got out of the car for a closer look. There was a strangeness in the air. Total quiet prevailed. Even the energetic little creek was making no sound. No birds flying around and no traffic on the road. It was as if we were in or at least on the edge of a different world. I noticed the hair was standing up on the back of my neck. My wife broke out in goosebumps. We quickly decided it would be a good idea to return to the car and get the heck away from there. Within a very short distance we observed that the water was again flowing in the right direction and things seemed normal.
Were we at a place where there was a dimensional shift or maybe a parallel world overlap? I don’t really know. We’ve come across a number of strange places in the foothills and mountains of the west. Places where the air shimmered and there was the feeling of an unseen presence nearby. I’ve heard them called portals or doors to other realms. Some of them have felt positive and light filled while other ones have had a dark, alien feeling.
We’ve tried to keep a healthy distance from all of them although on occasion we’ve been a lot closer than was comfortable.
I like weeds. They’re hardy and will grow just about anywhere. They don’t require tilling and feeding with some special fertilizer. Lots of them are good to eat and many have beautiful flowers.
I don’t know why weeds got such a bad rap. It it weren’t for them some places would be really barren, funky looking affairs. Consider how dreary those wonderful high mountain meadows would be without all those wildflowers (weeds) ablaze with their blooms.
During those dry summers when the lawn of St. Augustine grass looks bedraggled the crabgrass can be counted on to remain nice and green. And, of course, we can always depend on dandelions to proliferate and supply a good show of yellow flowers.
I like weeds. God created them so He certainly must think they are important. I’m not inclined to question God’s opinion?
So…all together now…let’s hear it for the weeds. “Yea weeds. Live long and prosper.”
The owner of the duplex hates dandelions. He considers them a blasted nuisance, spreading all over his precious lawn. He says they multiply worse than rabbits. He spends hour after hour digging them up. He tells his tenant next door he can’t figure out where they all come from.
The tenant loves dandelions. Everything about them is wonderful. They make great additions to a salad and hot dandelion tea can’t be beat. And then there are the beautiful yellow blooms. Ah, but the seeds. They are a special delight the way the breeze can scatter them about. What a wonderful thing.
As the afternoon winds down and dusk approaches the landlord finishes his dandelion digging and retires to his home for the night.
Hearing that door close the tenant opens his and steps outside. He eases off the porch and heads down the road to a large meadow not too far away. It’s one of his favorite places and it’s full of dandelions. After sitting amongst them for awhile he arises and begins his return walk to his home.
Upon arrival however, before going inside, he smiles and quietly walks all around the lawn gently sowing all those seeds he brought back with him.