Taking time to share the outdoors

Dec. 17, 2012 @ 08:06 PM

The horrific shootings this past Friday are a reminder of how innocent and precious life is.
Perhaps we all should walk with London, who likes pink and purple and takes dance on Tuesdays. She can read two grades higher than her own and plays well with others.
On Saturdays, she is Daddy’s girl. It is cold, and he takes her hand in his and leads her along. She is dressed in camouflage boots, pants, a sweatshirt, ski cap, gloves, scarf and is holding tight to the faded green thermos in her hands.
She talks with what some call a drawl. She giggles, and her missing front teeth show youth.
When she pauses to examine the depression in the ground and the one beside it, she says: “Look Daddy, a doe and her fawn were bedded here.”
He kneels beside her and holds her hand and says: “Yes, London.”
They walk farther along, and her steps are quicker than his and with more force. She is not gentle-footed with the leaves, instead walking like she is stabbing them.
They pause for a moment, and he looks ahead, then to the sky and finally to his London.
Now she is bending, her hands free of his and busy in the leaves. She takes the stick from atop the young pine seedling and heaves it away with her right hand.
“There, little tree; you are now free,” London said.
They walk farther to a hill where there are trees for as far as his eyes can see. He looks to the branches, then beyond to the sky and to the places known as forever.
London is looking at a tree nearby. Her steps are quick, and she stumbles upon reaching its trunk. There is a hole in this tree, a hollow as some might call it, and London lies against the ground and looks inside. Her brown eyes are wide and bold.
She frowns and twists her nose, and she tucks her face closer and says: “Hello, is anyone in here?”
There is no reply. The hollow is empty, though there hardly is an echo of London’s voice.
“It looks dark in there,” she says without any sounds of reply.
He walks to her, places his warm hand on her back and says: “What do you see, London?”
She looks to his face, smiles and says: “I see nothing, Daddy.”
They move farther along, and there is a formation of rocks that have weathered many suns and many rains. There is moss, decayed leaves, broken sticks and a feather, too. The feather is blue and delicate, and she takes it in her palm.
She studies this feather. She follows the lines that begin black and fade to blue, and she is intrigued.
“It is a gift from nature,” she says, looking to the sky and the trees.
Farther still, they step over a felled tree, then he leads her around a cluster of briars and beneath a tall cedar tree. It is here that a lone rabbit was resting. When they step closer, the rabbit leaps from the collection of sticks and leaves. Its cotton-white tail is a blurred image against the brown and tan hues of this forest floor.
The rabbit goess left, then right and when it had run some distance away, it paused.
“Daddy, that was close,” London says. “Did you see how fast it ran?”
They reached a place where the cedar and pine trees funneled into a creek, and there are nut and elm trees, as well. They follow the cedars to where the creek bends, twists and tangles. This is where they come to sit, play, think, sing and be silent. On this day, it is where London wanted to come to see the sun set.
He spreads the blanket on the ground, and they are against a familiar tree. Her feet are covered, and her lips soon are to the cup of freshly poured hot chocolate.
He sees her sip. Her mouth is closed, and she is looking beyond the trees and into the scene beyond. They have come here to hunt in the past, waiting for game. They have come here and found success in waiting, and frequently this success is not found with game in hand.
Such is the case this day, when he wraps his arm around London and pulls her against his side.
The sky is littered now. They see the pinks and oranges.
When the trees grow taller and the sun becomes smaller and there is silence, she looks to him and her sigh is the only sound heard.
That night, when he tucks her in, he looks into the brown eyes of his little girl and he says: “Today, you freed a tree and spoke into a hollow, and the sun set in our eyes.”
He paused. She yawned and placed her hand on his and said: “And you held my hand, all day.”
Enjoy your time outdoors.

You may contact Jason Hawkins at hawkinsoutdoors@msn.com.