We have a campsite in our Not-So-Big-Woods. Nothing particularly fancy--just a clearing overlooking the creek and its deep bank, a circle of stones for a campfire, and a concrete bench used either for quiet contemplation or for holding cooking equipment and lanterns. Sometimes we pitch a tent and sleep out, sometimes it's just nice to spend an evening under the stars and among the trees, as we did earlier this week. The site has been named Camp Joie de View, combining my name with a celebration of the lovely view over the creek that wraps 2 sides of our property.
After a dinner of hamburgers cooked over the campfire (and a quick retreat to the house for a change of clothes after I dumped my drink in my lap), we just sat. As Dr. Ruth Young over at Talking Nature says, if you just sit quietly, things happen.
You might get the stinkeye from a black-and-white warbler, concerned that you're gobbling up all the good bugs. Jumping from twig to twig, then shimmying up a tree trunk in a darn good impression of a nuthatch, this twitchy little thing was constantly in motion. Always, though, with one eye on the suspicious couple in the red camp chairs.
You might get to hear the hoarse "Squonk!" of a Great Blue Heron, circling the big trees across the creek before settling in. The look so awkward in trees. I'm constantly surprised that they don't come crashing down through the branches, wings askew and legs tangled in vines. I watched through binoculars for a very long time before it dawned on me that one of them was sitting in a nest. And so was the other. Sometimes, I'm not as observant as I'd like to believe.
You might wonder about that ungodly high-pitched noise. It's hard to hear it at first, but once you notice it, you can't shake it. What is it? Oh. A tufted titmouse? Really? Yes, really. In fact, one that's just visited our feeder, then flew a hundred yards so it could eat one of our peanuts above our heads.
You might get to hear a Barred Owl hooting and barking. And if you happen to be looking in just the right direction at just the right second, you might see its silhouette as it flies in for a closer look at you, apparently decides you're ok, and glides out again. Don't even try to hear it--just take a moment to be thankful you aren't a mouse.
Late at night, while you doze on cushions on the ground waiting for the fire to burn out (and waiting...and waiting....) if you're very lucky, you might hear two packs of coyotes tumbling through the night, sounding like a playground full of kids laughing and screeching.
Nature IS out there.