It was a gray day crowned by a milky white sky that gave way to shafts of muted sunlight now and then. We were walking in the woods, the three of us, chatting about the latest documentaries we’d seen, fun summer plans, and the joy of fulfilling dreams. Our friend Ari had just finished building a forest hot tub using a cast iron, clawfoot jewel placed upon a stone platform with a firepit underneath. She was sharing what it felt like to finally sink into a warm bath in the middle of the woods when a sound caught my attention.
Listen, I said to my friends as I stood still trying to locate the source of the noise. Within seconds we heard the rap, rap, rapping of a woodpecker perched somewhere nearby. Someone’s trying to get inside a tree, I said laughing as we began scanning the forest canopy in search of the rapper. After several rounds, my friend Beth walked to a tall, nearly dead poplar tree and put her ear against the trunk. Her eyes lit up like sparklers.
“It’s here,” she whispered, “come feel this!”
Ari and I joined Beth and placed our ears against the trunk. Sure enough, within seconds the wood beneath our faces started to vibrate to the melody of the bird’s hammering. We could also hear the rapid-fire knocking inside the trunk. When we looked up, we were surprised to discover that the small bird was sitting on a branch at the very top of the tree – nearly thirty feet in the air!
Like excited little girls, we stood with our cheeks pressed against the trunk of the tree for several minutes, enchanted by the power of this little bird. After a while, as we continued on our journey, I knew it was something I’d remember for years to come.
On the drive home from the park, I thought about how, when I was a young girl, I used to spend hours in the woods. I examined bugs, was fascinated by the shapes and colors of autumn leaves, chased snakes into tall grass, and combed through piles of rocks to find the perfect shapes and sizes for my collection.
I still love rocks :).
In our wisdom years, these early experiences can be placeholders for passion meant to be rediscovered and experienced later in life. Like a spiritual archeologist in search of ancient treasures, we’re invited to go back in time to retrieve that which was lost and must be found. Moments of childlike wonder are clues, breadcrumbs in a forest. They lead us back home to ourselves, to our souls, and to what we love.
Be on the lookout for wonder.
© Copyright 1999-2023 Cheryl Richardson, P.O. Box 13, Newburyport, MA 01950, www.cherylrichardson.com. All rights reserved. Used with permission.