|Touch of inspiration|
|Written by Chandra L. Mattingly|
|Wednesday, January 02, 2013 10:01 PM|
What is it about the touch of the wild that inspires?
Recently I've been reminiscing, holding onto certain, near-perfect moments. How blessed I've been to experience:
? A freshly-emerged butterfly clinging to my finger as I carried it from indoor hatchery to outdoor freedom. The perfection of its delicate wings and the whisper of its touch on my hand are engraved upon my memory.
? Sandhill cranes in the thousands, dropping from the sky to forage and rest in the cornfields of Ewing Bottoms, the cacophony of their greetings carrying for miles. What a thrill to see among them the larger white forms of whooping cranes, gone from Indiana for decades until their reintroduction in 2001 through the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership!
? The call of an owl in the early evening dusk of midwinter: the eerie rise and fall of a screech owl's voice or, more rarely, the deep hoots of barred or horned owls.
? Bald eagles gathering around a lowered lake on a wintry but sunny day, dipping into the water and snatching dying fish. Over 20 of this species chosen as our national emblem found the free food at Starve Hollow Recreation Area in January 2006. They cackled like giant robins, bathed in the shallows, and mostly perched in trees between their swoops over the lake. Some had the white heads and tails of adults, some the solid dark brown of yearling juveniles, and some were in between with mottled bodies and golden tails, but all were beautiful.
? A male cardinal, stunned and motionless beside the road, which came to life when lifted and warmed between my hands – a flash of red winging back into the sky.
? Fresh-fallen snow, draping all the outdoors in wreaths of white, a gift of beauty to those able to relax and enjoy it.
? The perfection of a doe and a buck, poised alertly in a meadow while trying to decide how dangerous was this person on a horse. Black-tipped ears and dark brown body were highlighted by the snow beyond.
? The scents of spring and summer, lilacs and roses, lily of the valley, even pungent marigolds, and always, seemingly, fresh-cut grass.
? The repeated “pweet, pweet” of a male woodcock in March, as it rotated on the ground, calling for a mate, then shot straight into the sky, whistling as it dropped back to earth to once again plead its cause.
? The touch of God's wind in my hair, blessing, always blessing me as I sit my horse atop a ridge, gazing over the valley below and drinking in its ever-changing beauty.
These are gifts, as are sunsets and sunrises, a toddler's giggles, the touch of a beloved hand, a smile shared with a stranger, a kiss.
May everyone reading this find such beauty in this new year and every year!
Chandra L. Mattingly is a staff reporter for The Journal-Press and The Dearborn County Register. She also writes the blog Of Bugs, Blooms and Vittles for our website.