I’m not sure when this song from The Sound of Music became associated with Christmas, but apparently it has. So I thought I’d post some of my favorite things. And surprise! They all have to do with nature.
When I was growing up, my grandfather instilled in us a healthy respect for the ocean. But this has only made me love the winter storms more. I love being as close to the most powerful continual force on the planet, especially when she’s “wild”. I love the summer ocean, but nothing compares to our winter storms and having a front row seat. I have learned how to stay safe, thanks to my grandfather, when to run and how far. And it brings especially this time of year, a great opportunity for beach combing.
Agates! Over the past several years, I’ve learned the difference between a “rock” and an “agate”. There is some kind of deep-seeded thrill of finding agates. They are not plentiful. In fact the past two winters Mother Nature has chosen to push loads of sand over our hunting grounds.
This bowl of agates is a few years old, but I found them all in one outing. My jacket weighed about 15 pounds, and I briefly lost my dog. I was too busy looking for agates, so Zeke opted to take another walk on his own. I found him playing gleefully in the surf. But needless to say, once we were home, dry, and I had cleaned out my pockets, I was thrilled. They are elusive and when learning you bring home a lot of simple rocks, but once you’ve learned (and there is always more to learn) they can be a true delight that fills you with the love of nature.
The Elk! We have our own herd of elk here in our small community. They travel through town and we are lucky enough to have them come close to the house. Some mornings I come out for my coffee and find myself starring into the loving eyes of an elk.
They have a lovely hierarchy that we can watch from inside our home. There is the “bull” or “alpha” elk who steps to the head of the path. He looks around for any danger, and then one by one, the ladies and their offspring pass by him, single file, as they make their way to the beach. Even though it is out in the open, they feel secure and safe on the beach. They also enjoy grazing on the beach grass that grows wild between the top of the path to the beach, and the beach. So it’s not uncommon to see them grazing in the dunes. Then they return to the woods, the “alpha” once again bringing up the rear after checking for danger. If a car should come by, they race into the forest and this isn’t quiet by any stretch of the imagination. They are loud as they thunder their way back down the trail they travel. It’s frustrating that many of our neighbors have deemed the elk “pests” and do everything they can to chase them from their flower gardens. It seems they’ve forgotten: the elk were here first and we should respect them, rather than scare them. My husband and I openly welcome them (much to the frustration of our neighbors) and one morning we heard the sounds of breathing and munching through our bedroom window. We didn’t pull back the blind so as not to frighten her, but felt honored to hear an elk so close to our bed. Nature is amazing if we simply allow it to be.
Swimming with Wild Dolphins! I have been truly blessed in that I have twice been to the Bahamas to swim with wild dolphins. I have gone on the adventure both times with Dolphin Expeditions, and it has literally changed my life. The dolphins have a way of implanting love into your heart space that I struggle to put into words. And I’m not exaggerating here.
I have watched the saddest souls come alive with glee after an encounter with these amazing beings. I have felt their love myself long after I’ve returned home. In fact, when I need them, I simply close my eyes and they are here with me, tenderly loving me back to where I need to be. The dolphins simply put:are not of this world. It’s possible to view them at Seaworld or other places of entrapment designed for us to “learn” about wildlife. But the truth is, you simply can’t appreciate these souls until you swim free in the water with them. They love to play, they love to explore you, and when surrounded by many of them, its a feeling I’ve never experienced before. I will return one day, but that day is a long time from today. It doesn’t matter though because I know that they are here with me, in spirit, and all I have to do is quiet my mind and call them to me.
My Husband isn’t well. He has cancer and has been handed an expiration date. I think he’ll pass that day, but he isn’t physically the man I married. He frequently has little energy which frustrates him because he can’t do all the things he wants to do. But he tries. I’ve never known a human with so many limitations that works as hard as he does to overcome them. I have never met anyone who is as giving and loving as he is. And I’m truly grateful he’s in my life. My “job” during this final stage of his life is to try and make things as comfortable as I can for him. I can’t change what is, but I can choose an attitude towards the disease and his daily life. And I’ve chosen to help him along, help with the little things that have become big things, and love him each day. We have always loved Christmas. We have always acted like two little kids on Christmas morning and this year will be no different. But I have learned a great lesson through our journey. And that is when life becomes bigger than we can handle, we must reach out to those who can help. His medication is ridiculously expensive and there is no way we could afford it alone. So, after a lot of thought, I agreed to let the community help. And boy did they help! A fund was set up in his name and the donations poured in. I no longer have the stress and worry over paying this insane price for a life saving medication each month. I’m humbled by the offerings, I’m so very grateful for the little things, and I know that this part of the hardest thing either one of us has ever done – has been relieved by our community. A huge thank you once again to all who have stepped forward to help.
It is the end of 2013. I live in a beautiful area where nature and animals are bountiful. I have a gift that helps others in a way that few can. I have a loving family, a loving husband, and a small group of very close friends. I also have many many animals who help me to find joy in everyday. I hope for all who read this that you too, can find gratitude and joy. For even in the darkest of nights, there are many bright stars that shine in the sky. It may be hard to see them if there are clouds or fog, but knowing that these stars are there, that the animals are there, well, these are absolutely my favorite things.
Love and Light!