It isn’t often that we get a run of great mid-autumn weather like we have enjoyed recently. I am in the Christmas tree business, and more often than not, we get wet at least for a portion of the harvest season. This year, it’s wall to wall sunshine, mild temps, light breezes. Even the deer are taking it easy. I usually get out to bow hunt a few times, and whenever I’ve visited my tree stands this year, the deer have been lazy! They have no reason to hurry, the mast crop is good, the rut is on in slow motion, and it’s a bit like the dog day of summer for these four legged relations.
Our economy is in such turmoil now, and many of us are getting a firsthand taste of what our ancestors went through in the Great Depression. No, it’s not a depression, at least not by any textbook definition. It is, however, a major shift in how many of us are handling our finances. This is my 48th year selling Christmas trees. I’ve got notes going back decades, and they include previous recessions. Never have I seen retailers of trees so reluctant and waiting so late in the season to place orders. Normally, I am sold out of trees by mid-September. As of now, I still have hundreds of trees left unsold. Only in the last few business days has the telephone begun to ring. Perhaps it is time to reassess the way we “do business”. And, having said that, I am so blessed to have a strong faith in Creator, in knowing that my needs will be met, that all that I have to do is to give thanksgiving and everything I need will be provided. And, I am blessed with the trust to go forward each day in that knowledge.
Speaking of hunting…. One of the things I love most of all about being in the woods hunting is that more often than not, I see something unusual, or I get to see the antics of an animal close up, or perhaps I just have time to meditate, to think, to spend time with me. On my last trip to Greenwood, I was in my tree stand all day long, alternating between silently scoping out my surroundings, meditating, praying, thinking, not thinking, eating an apple, watching the chickadees, listening to the crows. I find I go into a trance-like state when I am sitting or standing silently on watch. It’s a good feeling, and it allows me to be present, to let my mind run free, to contemplate totally on one subject, to be centered. And then, poof, just like that, one of my relations will wander into this space that I have borrowed for a brief moment, and take me to a different place. On this day, a mother black bear and her two yearling cubs wandered through about a hundred yards off. Now, if you’ve ever had the privilege to watch a black bear in it’s habitat, they are quite nonchalant about the way they move through the woods. Mom walks along as though she is on a 10 day hike, and she is deliberate in her focus, moving at a faster face than lumbering. Cub number one is hustling to keep up, though not running, but clearly seems to be a bit stressed out, and looking back over it’s shoulder to see where sibling is. Bringing up the rear, with nary a care in the world, stopping frequently to check under this log for grubs, or pulling at that Russian olive bush to strip off some berries, comes the rearward contingent. Never once did Mom stop and look back, drawing on some ancient bear wisdom, knowing that youngster has a great sense of smell, if not eyesight, and will never become lost.
When the shadows of the trees become as long as the trees are high, I know I will have to climb down soon. These warm days make it way easier for me to stick it out all day in the woods. I never was too fond of the cold, and find it especially hard to take standing still in one spot very long these days. But with these mild temps this fall, I stay until dark. And I am usually rewarded with the calling back and forth of two great horned owls across Brown Hollow from me. It’s such an awesome privilege to hear these two partners calling to each other, and besides the deer, gray squirrels, blue jays and turkeys, I am the only witness to their daily evening ritual. If an owl calls “hoo-hoo, hoo-hoo” and nobody is present, does it really make a sound? You bet.
My favorite author, Kent Nerburn, came out with a new book recently. The Wolf at Twilight is a response to the astounding demand from Kent’s reading audience to give them more of the fabulous writings and teachings that he offers in a unique fashion. It is not a sequel, but a follow up to his book Neither Wolf nor Dog. I was blessed to pick up a copy recently at Barnes and Noble. Saving it for the quiet times on the tree lot next month. Kent writes about Native America in a different way, and he also writes about spirituality in a manner that resonates with me. His book Letters to My Son was a book I bought, read, and quickly passed on to my son, Pat, who is just beginning his family and dadhood. I hope it gives him some insights I wish I’d had at his age.