Special Moments

Posted on: June 6, 2010

by Deborah in the UP


One spring, I had noticed an abundance of butterflies congregating at my bridge. The yellow and black butterflies, gentle, pretty, and prolific, the Fluted Swallowtail. It seemed that there was a depression in the road where it was damp, and was prime for … something they enjoyed. Never did figure out what it was. The butterflies were everywhere! They were also in the middle of the road.

I really hated driving over them, I couldn’t help but kill a few, and I felt bad doing that. That one day, as I approached the bridge, there were literally hundreds of the black and yellow wings, pulsating. I slowed, wondering what to do, then had an idea. I slowly rolled over the area and stopped. The butterflies took off, startled. Suddenly I was encompassed with black and yellow wings!! Hundreds enveloped the car, I was surrounded by their beauty. I was giddy with awareness of being the center of their activity.

I sat there for a few minutes, awestruck with what had just happened. I was just hoping they would just leave unharmed, but they gave me an incredible gift, a moment in nature. Butterflies are symbolic of transformation, and although I did not understand it or feel it at that time, I now see how much I treasure that memory, and how it has transformed my perception of beauty in even the smallest creature.


Early one misty Fall morning, I was driving out our road, heading for the main route that would take me to town, totally preoccupied with events in my life. Suddenly, a large bird swooped low in front of me. As I hit the brakes, it rose again, but dropped something. I thought perhaps it had been carrying something in it’s talons and I was curious. But it wasn’t something that had been carried… it was a large feather, perhaps from the tail or wing. Overall, the feather measured 9” long… from a red-shouldered hawk! A gift, left right in my path. Of course I kept it, I felt the hawk meant that feather for me, and was trying to tell me something. Recently I had been studying the symbolism of animals in Native American culture. The area I live in is strong in the Ojibwa influence, and I do believe I could feel ancient spirits still clinging to my woods. Yes, I kept it, and I wove it into a natural wall hanging I have to this day (see picture). The hawk is a Watcher, and was telling me to be aware of my surroundings. I should have listened more closely.


There is nothing more delightful than to hear the owls calling to each other in the dark of the night. The who-who, who whoooo in the distance, answered by the same but closer call has always brought a smile to me. It was a reassurance that all was well: the owls were watching over the night.

One very cold, snowy afternoon, right at dusk, there was movement that caught my attention. I had to look closely, very closely, but I could see… the Snowy Owl that had just perched in a tree overlooking the clearing next to the house. It was magnificent! Sitting perfectly still, it was at least two feet tall, and blended in with the snow covered branches. As the night fell, it got more and more difficult to see this incredible bird, but it was still there, still sitting patiently. See, the clearing was also where the bird feeder was, and although the birds weren’t out at night, the rodents were. The mice crept up thru their tunnels at night to scrounge all the seeds that the birds had dropped during the day, and the owl knew this. Just as it was almost too dark to see, the Snowy Owl left it’s perch, diving for the ground and then back up. It took my breath away.. The wing span was at least four feet across, perhaps more… and completely silent. The sight was another gift from nature.


Just today, as I was headed to the lake, I was reminded of another time seeing a fawn and doe. Today, as I rounded a curve, a large doe stood in the middle of the road, defiantly not moving. I stopped well away from her and waited for her to move, but she would look back to the side she had come from, then back at me. Soon I was rewarded with why… a wobbly legged fawn came out from the bushes. It was very small, and couldn’t have been more that a day or two old. It wobbled over to the doe, and they both headed off into the woods. Precious.

My last year in the woods, I had rounded another curve, on another road, only to be stopped by another doe in the road… but this one was nursing a fawn.. In the middle of the road! I saw a car approaching me, so I flashed my lights. He slowed and waited patiently too. I glanced in my rearview mirror and was surprised to see two more cars behind me, all sitting idle while we took in this spectacular insight. It was one of those moments I wish I had a camera with me (that happens a lot!), especially when I saw that the person behind me was leaning out, snapping pictures of this incredible sight. We all sat there, patiently, for a full fifteen minutes. But work called, and life does go on. We had our morning heart warming and now it was time to continue. I inched closer .. Very slowly. The doe took a few steps and stopped. I inched a bit closer, and she moved to the shoulder, jumping the berm. The fawn tried to follow, but was so small it couldn’t climb. It ran toward me several feet, trying to climb in a near panic state, until it reached an area it could maneuver, then it was gone from sight.

Mushrooms in the wind

One summer I was fortunate enough to meet a professor that taught .. Mushrooms, and I took one of his classes. My world was forever changed after that weekend. I learned how to identify the different mushrooms that were growing in our area, what was edible and what was not. I got very good at this, and still hunt the wild mushroom to this day.
Certain color and odors would catch my attention, pull me to them, and I would see these tasty delicacies where no one else would. I spotted the brilliant orange of the Chicken of the Woods that clung to the side of a tree as we were driving one day. We stopped to check it, and seeing that it was in prime condition, I went back to the car for my knife and one of the baggies I now kept handy. Turning back, I was witness to a sight that took my breath away. One of the polypore’s higher up on the tree, was releasing spore… a cloud of orange, a transparent wisp floated from it on a non-existent breeze. A moment difficult to describe, but captured forever in my mind, because once again, I forgot my camera!

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