3 days of bliss: walking in the woods and writing

Saying Grace is out of fashion – when was the last time you heard
somebody say “She’s so cool, she sends up a little prayer of thanks
before she starts to eat” or an equivalent of that. Well, cool or not,
I felt myself wanting today to thank somebody somewhere for the many
wonderful things I have in my life.

What prompted this atheist ( or whats that other word for one who does
not think about God one way or the other) to start being thankful for
what she’s got? I am one of those people who is touched and deeply
affected by the beauty of nature, and that is what did it for me

I am at the North Cascades Institute at a First Person Narrative
Writers Workshop. The Institute is housed in log cabins on the shores
of a Glacial Lake called Lake Diablo, in the middle of the North
Cascades National Park.

In front of the institute are the shimmering jade green waters of the
lake. The  lake is surrounded by  the craggy peaks of the North
Cascades range, some of them still covered with last traces of snow.

The wind is blowing ripples across the lake. I am in the middle of the
lake, on a canoe with a few other participants from our class. The
wind gets stronger and I am cold and shivering – I’ve got goose bumps
on my bare legs (  thanks to a smart idea of wearing shorts
anticipating great weather). I see a white bird riding the winds
across the lake. I learn later, to my delight, that it is an Osprey.

Our dorms are in log cabins, and seem very much a part of the natural
environment. As I walk up the rough cut steps, I see a black beetle. I
stop to look at it – and observe for a good 10 minutes. To my
surprise, I observe things I had never seen before –  the beetle,
which had 6 legs ( no, thats not the surprise), was using 3 alternate
legs at a time to move forward, so that at any point of time, 3 of its
legs were balancing it and 3 were in the air. It was interesting to me
as a few days earlier I had read in a naturalist’s handbook about how
animals use their hind and front leg on alternate sides to walk ( it
changes when they are moving fast, think trotting horse) – and at that
time I was not quite able to visualize what the writer was talking
about. Well, here is a good demonstration of that, I realized. And it
makes perfect sense as it keeps the animals body well balanced, in
this case, much like a tripod.

The evening after dinner there was a great presentation by the person
who was leading a Birding class – well actually, a class on Corvids (
what are Corvids ? allow me 🙂 – corvids are the family of birds like
crows, Ravens and magpies). I know what you are thinking – a 3 day
class on Ravens? I confess, I was thinking the same. This
presentation, I will have you know, was one of the best presentations
I have been to in my life ( and that includes the TED Talks that
Appapappa is so fond of). The 40 something people in the audience sat
glued to their seats, and the questions and discussions flew. What
amazing research this guy had to share about the intelligence of
ravens and crows! He showed this video of a Crow that shaped a wire to
take out an object from a glass that it would otherwise not reach. We
were all blown away! I came away thinking that animals are more
intelligent than we humans think them to be – it is always a surprise
to us when we hear about intelligent things animals do – likely
because we have only now started to learn more about them.

So that talk was a fitting end to a great day. I look forward to
tomorrow, but before that, I have got to say thanks once more – for
Appapappa, who is taking care of N so that I can enjoy these 3 days of
living in the midst of nature, writing.


6 thoughts on “3 days of bliss: walking in the woods and writing

  1. Shahana September 8, 2008 / 9:50 am

    This is precisely why I love you – you follow your dreams. This is YOU.
    Keep it going.

    And this is why I love you even more –
    “I had read in a naturalist’s handbook about how
    animals use their hind and front leg on alternate sides to walk ( it changes when they are moving fast, think trotting horse) – and at that
    time I was not quite able to visualize what the writer was talking about. ”
    Really!! You never ever, EVER, noticed an animal walk before ??? A dog, a cat … ?? Never?? You’ve only ‘read’ this in a handbook. Hawww.
    Sweetie, forget animals … think about how we walk – right leg fwd, left hand fwd. Left leg fwd, right hand fwd. We alternate too.

    Hmmm, wonder if I should publish a handbook on this ? You think I’ll get any readers ? 😉

  2. kopili September 8, 2008 / 9:58 am

    And this is why i love my friends 🙂

    S – human’s using both sides moving alternate limbs is a left over from our walking on all four limbs I think. You should try sometimes using the same side limbs when walking – it feels really awkward. It was a fav game of LOTs and me when we were kids.

  3. lostonthestreet September 8, 2008 / 11:03 am

    Hmm lets think.An agnostic would be someone who doesn’t profess to know one way or the other about the existence of God. You might also want to check out “deist” or “theist” ..
    And Shahana, you have not lived if you have not tried that game..I think you and Aks will make a good pair.That particular game has to be played in pairs.
    And finally, so you finally found your calling I guess…. BRILLIANT!!!

  4. Golu September 9, 2008 / 6:17 am


  5. Golu September 9, 2008 / 6:26 am

    Still having trouble visualizing this? Remember your favorite song?
    Dahine Bayen Dahine Bayen..Tham!
    Nanha munna rahi hoon…

  6. BD September 9, 2008 / 4:34 pm

    We learnt to walk erect because our heads are too big for our spine and shoulders to support the horizontal position.

    You should see dressage at the Olympics? Its all about the art of footwork and all the things you mentioned.

    I am thinking of gifting you the photo of crows. having observed crows for long periods of time, (dont ask me why, but I do strange things like that for photography) I can concur on their intelligence.

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