I took my paints on a one night backpacking trip along the Salmon River. but instead of painting I spent a lot of time sitting by the river listening to the world. The deep sounds of the river flowing around the large mossy rocks while the bugs were hovering above the water and zig zagging across the open space.
The Lorquin’s Admiral Butterflies were also fluttering from one rock to another and then off to a tree branch while the kingfisher passed through in search of a good spot to fish. The ravens with their throaty calls were hard to miss, one landed in an evergreen and hopped up the boughs, rung by rung like a ladder.
At night in my little camp a bat flew past, lurching after bugs with amazing speed and grace. It made dozens of laps through the area, passing above or alongside me each time. Where did this bat spend the day? I wondered. I trusted its blind technology as it’s shadowy presence moved erratically about the camp while I moved about to brush my teeth and change into soft fleece for a cozy night in the hammock.
The next week in the city I find it hard to focus on sketching with so many humans milling about as at Tryon Creek. I do my best, then wander down the hill to the creek, admiring all the orange blossoms in the undergrowth, the yellow and orange leaves that collect around the edges of rocks in the creek.
The ravens who live here squawk at each other as I cross the park and I wonder if I could ever love the loud and brash antics of people the way I love the antics of birds. A group of women in spandex has been out of sight behind me on the trail for some time and one of them is bellowing her part of the conversation, which is sizable. I stop by the creek to let them pass while an even louder group approaches from the opposite direction.
Is it possible to meet everyone’s needs in our natural areas? The need to play, the need to be quiet. I wish I could be like the bat who went about its business unconcerned with the human in its way, content to wake at dusk and hunt for bugs the same as every other day.