There is a thrill that comes with witnessing something rare in the wilderness – a beaver doing the back stroke, a chattering otter family, an algae-covered mink slipping across the marsh on a log, an eagle nest guarded by vigilant parents. Those days leave us feeling as though we’ve been given a gift, so lucky to have been in that place at that particular time.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the more ordinary moments, though. When I first fell in love with Kevin, the moments I daydreamed about were those of sharing space, navigating around the kitchen in the mornings taking that first sip of coffee, preparing lunches, asking about dreams and how was your night, sending each other off to meet the day. Maybe that’s because we met in our 40s, when the pulse-racing drunken excitement of a new relationship is simply understood to be insufficient for the long-haul and the question becomes, “Yes, but can I let this person into my everyday life?”
The intimacy of the everyday.
So is this true for exploring wildness. Those rare sightings of otters are wonderful, but so few and far between if that is all we relied on to sustain our interest we would quickly move on to other endeavors. It can be easy to dismiss a robin as “just a robin” or a squirrel as “just a squirrel” without pausing to look more closely. But if you do, you might see that little squirrel delicately take a drink of water from the banks of the canal, or that the robin is in fact a fledgling whose parent has come to provide a meal. Slow wandering can result in witnessing the delight of a flock of Eastern Bluebirds splashing in the melt of a late-winter puddle. Stillness connects us to the Great Blue Heron, harassed as much as we are by the tenacious deer or horse flies that infest the marsh in July.
Truly, every day immersed in wildness is a day to be delighted in and treasured so long as we’re willing to move through the world of these wild things with humility and awe. Perhaps this is what intimacy is, the privilege of opening to and sharing the little moments that could so easily be dismissed as inconsequential.