Never knowing what you might find…

“What should I possibly have to tell you, oh venerable one? Perhaps that you’re searching far too much? That in all that searching, you don’t find the time for finding?”
― Hermann Hesse

(image: freshwater mussel shell, Troup Co, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2013)

Imagine my surprise, or better yet, shock, upon glancing down while out walking in the woods, in the middle of nowhere, only to spy some sort of “sea” shell. My husband is up ahead of me as I, always the ready with camera in hand, scouring the landscape, shout for him to come take a look at what I’ve found.

“What in the world?!” I exclaim. “How in the world did a sea shell get here?!” We are actually very deep in an old growth forest of rural midwest Georgia, nowhere near any sort of ocean nor house for that matter. My husband picks up the shell telling me it’s a fresh water mussel shell, which was most likely taken from the nearby creek by a raccoon, who then enjoyed a “seafood” dinner.

All of which of course got me thinking. It is often amazing what one finds when simply out for a walk–be it in the woods, the beach, a park—and it is always by happenstance, just randomly stumbling upon some small trinket or treasure.

And that is how it is with life. We so often, egoistically, think that we can just take off, going out into the world in order to find our heart’s desire. We try in vain, over and over, attempt after attempt to capture what it is we most often believe will make us oh so happy and content. If only this or if only that. . .and bingo, we’ve got it. . .be it happiness, contentment, inner peace, fulfillment, just fill in the blank.

Yet sadly no matter how hard we search and seek, find and dig, wander and plead, the “it” is just not there.

Then all of a sudden when we are no longer seeking and searching, no longer conscious of our quest, no longer hyper foucsed, no longer consumed, simply out of the blue, “it” is laying at our feet, in plain sight as if it’s been there the entire time. We exclaim, “oh my gosh, how in the world?” as we quietly bend over, picking it up. The dawning of the revelation, the cognizant realization, finally the contented exhale. . .

Maybe we can learn to stop our vain seeking and searching, our mad dashing about, our oh so valiant effort of running about all willy nilly for those most elusive things in our lives just long enough to take stock, realizing that perhaps, the “its” we so desperately are longing for, have been there all along. We’re just so busy and consumed, we don’t / can’t stop long enough to actually “see” that our searching is not necessary—it never was necessary.

The sweet release of letting go as we finally have what “it” is we’ve wanted for oh so very long—blessed contentment has been found—at last. . . but was it ever really missing. . .


“August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.”
― Sylvia Plath

(photograph: split trunk oak/ Troup Co, Georgia/ Julie Cook/2013)

Not that I’m a real Sylvia Plath fan—she’s a tad morose for my taste, but I thought the quote most applicable for this image… as well as for this time of year.
The calendar officially reads September, the weather, however here in the South, feels like something else entirely—more like summer.

The thermometer registered 84 with the humidity so heavy in the air, I was wet moments after stepping from the truck. This time of year marks the beginning of the yearly pilgrimage…my husband going down each Sunday to the “deer land” for the annual preseason preparations… with me, all the ready, tagging along.

Any excuse to be able to head to the woods, I’m there. If that means I’ve got to carry salt blocks, deer stands, “cloppers” to trim tree limbs, riding the four wheeler all over the property for hours, waiting patiently, as my husband bush hogs the property…I’m good with it all as I’m outside and free.

Granted it’s still early to truly enjoy the outings as it is still really hot, really humid and very very buggy. Spray with deet, spray some more, and be on the safe side, spray again—have you knowledge of the ticks? It’s also a good idea to have on boots, long pants and snake leggings if you’ve got them. Of course you could carry a .22 if you thought it would help, but I don’t know if a .22 wouldn’t simply make a rattlesnake just angrier.

With camera in hand, I wandered away a tad form the Bad Boy Buggy, aka, golf cart a la camouflage …the ultimate hunter’s toy providing stealth and comfort in the woods and on the trails. Eyeing the most unusual tree—the hole in the center made it look as if it had two separate legs, I angle in for some good shots. But what truly caught my eye were the lovely green leaves accented against the brown and grays of the bark of the trees off set by a deep blue sky…but wait,… is that,… can it be,…. do I see…. red leaves??? as in Fall crimson???

A joyous small tease of what is to be.

September will remain mostly warm and muggy giving way to a greatly anticipated October. The leaves will continue turning a dingy, sickly green. The air will remain heavy with dust if the rains hold off or things may turn moldy if things don’t dry out. October can still be a transitory month here in the South as well—depending on the “ninas” and the jet streams, we might be cool and crisp or we might dodge late tropical storms, or it might just be pleasant and truly fall like.

The next several weeks will certainly be a time of transition. My grandmother would tell me I’d need to pack away all my white clothing on September 1st as I couldn’t wear white after labor day, or before Easter for that matter. The swimming pools are all slowly being cleaned and covered, high school football is well under way, and we’re all eyeing those long forgotten sweaters, chomping at the bit to see if they still fit.

Happy Labor Day today, the closing of one season of time giving way to the next. The next “holiday” for some of us, will be November’s Veteran’s Day otherwise known as Armistice Day, and of course Thanksgiving, and before we know it, Christmas will be here—my goodness how time can seem so slow and yet can seem to fly right past us…all the while nature does her thing as the leaves work keeping us in tune with the calendar—

So on this new day to a new week, this Labor Day, make certain to take the time today to breathe in deeply the last lingering scents of summer…freshly mown grass, the acrid oder of pool chlorine, a freshly cut watermelon, the heavy smoke from the grill…. for as soon as you do, the air will magically change with the unmistakeable scents of Autumn….cinnamon, apples, cloves, pumpkins, burning leaves—be ready….the transition is here….

there is a fungus among us

“Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God.”
George Washington Carver

(photograph: a delightful, or rather deadly, little mushroom/ toadstool/ Troup County, GA/ Julie Cook/ 2013)

In this case, listening carefully can be done with either ears or eyes.

It was a glorious day. The sun was actually shining…a joyful sight indeed…. The giant, painfully white, fiery orb set off by the backdrop of a beautifully intense cloudless deep blue sky. I have to go back to April to remember when we actually last had a few consecutive days of sun without the torrential rains which have plagued us ever since…and then there is the humidity and temperature….what is this???
The humidity oddly low for August, as was the temperature….upper 70’s with the prediction to only reach the low 80’s today. A wonderful cool breeze…. this can’t be late August! Surely this isn’t Georgia in August?! This was Joy, plain and simple!!

We decided to take full advantage of the day! Sunday….a much needed day to worship, as well as a day to re-coop and re-group, all before starting the long 6 days (6 for my husband and his line of business)of work and school all over again. This day was a delightful excuse to head to the woods.

The four wheeler was loaded in the back of the truck as we headed south on the highway. We’ll use the four wheeler to traverse the dirt roads, the back roads, which will take us further back and further away from “the world”. We’ll then “park” the four wheeler in the shade of the trees as we hit the woods on foot. No worries, no troubles—just the sights and sounds of a precious undisturbed, true remaining forest.

“Don’t forget to spray” my husband warns. It might not feel like August and it might be a beautiful day for walking in the woods, yet this time of year, in the South, can be dangerous as well as deadly. We spray our boots and pant legs hoping to avoid the horde of seed ticks and the larger adults. Lyme disease, Rocky Mt spotted tick fever, you name it, I don’t want it. The other concern is for the rash of poisonous snake bites that have been prolific in Georgia this summer. Spray can’t keep the snakes at bay, only a good set of eyes and ears…. I was not comforted finding two sets of shed rattles when we stopped and got off the four wheeler.

My husband was busy with trail cameras. Obviously this was not just a fun little jaunt to the woods–there was serious business to attend to…such as placing trail cameras strategically throughout the woods, hoping to catch a glimpse or two of that all elusive trophy deer. For him, it’s serious business; for me, it’s pure enjoyment—

…So imagine my delight as I wandered off from the serious business of picking the perfect tree to tie a camera to….. simply to amble my way aimlessly deep into a wooded glen. With the dead leaves crunching crisply underfoot, I suddenly get a sense of a change of season—is Fall a slightly bit closer? Is that what I sense or rather “feel” in the air?? Do I see a slight tinge to the myriad of leaves overhead?

Whether you call it Fall or Autumn, either way, it is a time of year which beckons me back outside after months of dodging “the heat of the day” or as was the case this summer, the constant deluge of rain. It is a time that sends me in search of apples for the baking of pies and the making of cider…not to mention the beautiful colors which engulf my world—a palette of soft warm tones swirling about my head. There is a quickened up beat in my step after months of simply and lazily dragging my feet through the damp fresh mowed grass—-change is at hand and I can feel it!

I see that the long term forecast has the temperatures climbing back up towards the 90’s by week’s end—more like August I suppose. For today, however, I will bask in the possibilities of what will soon be—cool, crisp air, clear blue skies, falling leaves, muted tones…and pumpkins!

On this new day to this new week, rejoice in the possibilities, think of what will be, look closely around you for the signs of change. And if at all possible, get outside in order to enjoy the tail end of summer…before we know it, we’ll be talking turkey …..Happy week….