Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Zen and the Art of Squirrel - the Zen of Nature

It does not hurt that I went to school fr geology which is primarily an outdoor sort of venture.  It does not hurt that I am taking a short respite to write this from being out in the yard with a chainsaw cutting firewood.

There is something magical about nature and what it can do for your moods if you learn to appreciate it.  Sometimes people say that it is hard to see the forest through the trees, but I want you to look even closer than that.

Do you have any idea what is living under that rock?

Now, in some parts of the country what is living under that rock could be poisonous, so if you live somewhere that has scorpions, rattlesnakes, big nasty spiders, be aware of these object before you start tipping rocks up to see what lives beneath, I happen to live in Northern Minnesota and it is pretty benign up here.

The other day a friend of mine and I went for a nature walk, we hiked up the creek for about two miles looking at various things in the woods, looking at things living in the creek, pondering about the cycles of life and at what point various creatures that we saw were in withing those cycles.

It is almost fall (as of this writing we have a few more hours of summer), and this is the time of year that creatures start getting ready for a long and brutal winter.  This is also inter-related to the above mentioned firewood, although I am already prepped for this season.  Many of the creatures that you would see earlier in the year have already started to disappear from the streams and are a little harder to find.  On our trek we saw a few crawfish, a few minnows, a stonefly, one leopard frog, although only briefly, a few birds, and some evidence of other creatures that had been making their passages previously.

Being a geologist I was looking at the chlorite in the rocks and the different basalt flows and crosscutting nature of dikes in the strata, and how erosion has varied dependent on the nature of the bedrock.  We listened to the waterfalls, and watched the patterns that objects made as the flowed down stream.  We had a discussion on the linear nature of time and what information we would send back if we were able to send data back in time.

The logic behind the being able to send data back in time is that data has no mass, and can be transmitted via energy, or even quantum relationships, therefore would not require as extreme of an energy supply to return back a few years.

Maybe you are not the kind of person who is really into biology, geology, and theoretical physics.  I do recommend all three, but the main point is that when you are out in nature you are free of the rest of the world.

All of those things that you need to be away from at work are not likely to be sitting out in a creek through the woods.  The noises that grate on you every day as you try to just get through the day.  They are usually not caused by things in a creek through the woods.

I can hear the tubes on TV sets, I can hear the electricity running through wires under load.  I can hear florescent light bulbs.  Flashing lights, especially strobes make me twitchy.  Really loud music makes me need to go away and just sit for a while sometimes, depends on the nature of the music.

None of these triggers occur in a creek through the woods.

Deer, as a general rule, do not use a lot of electric appliances.  Mice are not huge on having underground parties, at least not ones that I can hear.

This weekend I went up the North Shore of Lake Superior to hang out for the weekend in Grand Marais.  Grand Marais is an interesting town and it is the end of the tourist season right now, but it is still nice enough out that they are everywhere.  At some point we ended up in a bar surrounded by the locals and it was too loud, there was too much movement, and too many things going on at one time so I went outside and looked at the lake.

The lake I understand.

Saturday night we decided to skip town and drive even further out into nowhere.  We ended up at a cabin on Gunflint Lake.  From the dock where I sat taking pictures of the aurora borealis I could see Canada about a mile away.

We saw evidence of two other people at the lake all night.  Once I saw a light at a dock about a quarter mile away, once a boat went by in the distance.

I watched a thunderstorm that was barely visible on the horizon for about two hours.  I listened to loons and possibly some wolves in the distance.  We could hear the shrews digging through the underbrush in the yard.

When I looked up in the sky I saw stars.  Millions of them.  None of them tried to judge me.  The friend I was up there with and I sat on the dock and talked about life and family for the entire night as we watched the green, yellow, and violet glow in the sky.

There were no phones, no Internet, the only electric device that was running was the camera as it shot pictures from the tripod.

That night I slept like a rock, which actually resulted in my missing was was apparently an epic aurora show at about four in the morning, but I woke up rested and I felt great.

This summer I bought a sailboat and fixed it up.  I discovered that when I am on the water I have almost no stress.  The only sound is the sound of  fourteen feet of the waterline gently making waves.

The only issue I have with the boat is that it is designed as a go fast boat, and I have no reason to go fast.  I just want to go from point A to point B, as quietly and calmly as possible.

I have been joking that I think I need a bigger boat, bigger and slower would be more accurate.

Nature is a place that surrounds us.  If you live in the depths of the city it may be farther away for you than it is for me.  But either way, it surrounds us.  If you go out in nature you may even find that you have a critter living out there that you have a lot in common with.


His name is squirrel.

The view from the dock

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