Awe and Wonder

I guess it’s natural towards the end of the year to take time for reflection. Some quiet time to think. Perhaps to assess where you are in life or simply reevaluate what’s important. And perhaps even more importantly, what’s not important. To get rid of the “clutter” in your mind. To find the place inside that is just “you.”

Nature is where I unerringly find the real me. It’s where I stop and take the time to really see what is around me. Not just look at it. But to experience it. To feel it. To breathe.

Most times I have a camera in hand, or at least a cell phone. Oh, the photos aren’t necessarily good but they’re enough for me to slow down and remember not only what was in front of me, but also how it made me feel. The awe and wonder of nature’s beauty, like this collage of colorful leaves that floated to this particular arrangement through no human intervention.

Perhaps it’s how the light filters through the trees in a woods, like a spotlight illuminating your path and brightening your day.

Or the wonder of two different tree species growing together, sharing nutrients and helping each other to thrive. Like this black walnut and maple. Sharing resources to grow stronger. Perhaps it’s a lesson we could all learn from. If we could only slow down enough to see it.

Beauty in nature captures the eye and the mind if we only let it. Nature’s harmony is all around us. Like this Great Spangled Fritillary with a small bee sharing nectar from a thistle.

I too need to be reminded to slow down and really see what’s in front of me. I almost walked right on by this innocuous little thing in the pasture field till a friend pointed it out and told me what it was.

It’s a praying mantis (mantid) egg sac. The first I’ve ever seen (or rather, the first I’ve ever fully recognized as such). The little sac (called ootheca) is about one inch long and the outside looks like foam but is hard. I’ve read the eggs overwinter and emerge in spring as 1/2 inch nymphs that look like a praying mantis but don’t have wings yet. And there can be from 50 to 200 of them in a single egg sac. Amazing.

Beauty in nature comes in many forms. This tree had me stopping in my tracks to wonder how this growth happened.

And stand in awe and wonder how the tree survived whatever had caused it to be shaped like this. Yet it continued to grow. Perhaps rather like we survive tough times and have the resilience to “soldier” on through it all. Just another reflection of nature in its many forms and the lessons it has to provide.

I hope you are fortunate enough to take a few moments to stop and really see whatever view of nature may be around you, wherever you live. To marvel at its magnificence. And stand in awe and wonder of its beauty. Whether it’s an close up view of the intricacies of an insect, such as this Gold-marked Thread-waisted wasp…

or experiencing the cold quiet hush of a partially frozen wetland on a morning walk.

May your Holiday and New Year be filled with awe and wonder of the nature that abounds around us all.

Until next time, keep exploring nature up close.

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