It was a beautiful morning for a walk as JoAnne and I took our morning exercise at Green Lakes Park today. We usually walk in the hills for an hour or so to get the blood moving. I always enjoy the translucent teal water of Round Lake, the soft mulch-padded path, fresh moist air, bird sounds, shaded lanes, and the mammoth old-growth trees. But one of the great joys of being outside is to watch for a serendipity, something beautiful and/or unusual that arrests my attention. I react with unspoken wonder, or maybe with a audible, “Wow!” or a trademark, “Cool.”
This morning there were at least three. First, on the curve just below the camper dumping station, I saw a smallish raptor, sitting very upright. I had left my binoculars in the car since I was supposed to be focusing on exercise. But I still stopped to get a closer look. (When I got home I looked him up- a Merlin- one of the few times I have seen one.) Then as I headed up the hill at the far side of Round Lake, I heard the familiar clunk clunk that could only be made by a Pileated woodpecker at work close at hand. I looked but could not see him. Soon he flew and as I continued to watch he returned and let me know where the pair were working. They were under some loose brush pecking away at an old decaying fall. The food must have been abundant because they were still at work when I returned 20 minutes later. To top the morning off, I met a very friendly giant schnauzer, glossy haired, taller than Plato was and jet black. She was a gem and she enjoyed a dog-lover’s attention too.
I guess being alert for small moments of joy like those is just another moment by moment way of counting my blessings. It provides joy along the path of life, lifts one’s spirits and sparks gratitude to God for the day.