Velvet Antlers, Summer Wind

Reading and photographs by Robert Towe

This week I am posting a few entries from my nature journal, written in recent days and weeks, fleeting impressions of the natural mountain year.

June 1: Early morning, moist with last night’s rain. Thin white wraiths of mist drift away with the departing darkness. From an upstairs window I look down on the wet green waking world. In the lower garden, a large buck deer is licking the salt block I put there, under the cherry tree. His antlers are still coated with thick brownish velvet for the summer months. The deer is the very essence of awareness, graceful poise. He paws the ground around the salt lick with a split black pointed hoof. Then he cautiously walks to an apple tree and reaches his long neck up to nibble the tender buds. For several minutes I watch---his large ears twitching, listening to every sound. His dark eyes glisten with wild light. Suddenly alerted, he steps quickly on taut legs into the wood’s edge, vanishing in deep green shadows.

June 8: A magnificent towering cumulonimbus has been building in the southern sky all afternoon. Across its enormous white billowing heights the tiny black silhouette of a hawk is soaring, in widening circles. He rides the strong currents of thermal updrafts rising from the warming earth. Every minute or so, the hot silent air tears open with his sharp red scream. Does it come from the sheer joy of flying a quarter mile above the land? Watching, I feel keen yearnings---to lift out of my boots, to open wings wide and join him, rising and soaring into the lofty blue vastness of empty air.

June 12: All this long afternoon the fields of high grass are rippling with warm breezes, shining green with June sunlight, running and whispering with summer wind shadows. The farmer whose property joins ours always seems to be the last to cut his hay. But I am grateful for that. One of the passing beauties of summer is watching the tall meadow grasses blowing in the wind. Several decades ago, Bob Dylan scribed that is where we will find the elusive answer to some poignant human questions that still have not gone away: “the answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind…….”

After listening long to the various winds of many seasons, I know that an essential part of a healthy answer to life’s questions is found in slowing down---way down---letting go of many unnecessary and hurtful things, and being still, cultivating awareness, listening to the wordless answers woven by the wind. We may gratefully contemplate the intricate beauty, design and wisdom of the created universe. This is a joyful, life-long discipline, joining the realms of art, science and spirit. The gift of true wonder for the natural turning world puts human things in perspective.