Outdoors

A walk on this side of wild – Jason Hawkins

Jason Hawkins
Jason Hawkins

The sky is blue and purple and white and bold and bashful, all at once.

The field is green, and the grass is a sea of movement as it rhythmically bends in a dance with the wind. The breeze is a cool breath that balances the sun’s warmth.

On a day when there is much to do and much to be done, I am with this field of movement and this sky of bold and bashful – and so I walk on this side of the wild.

I am here to seek.

I am here to find.

Though I am a hunter, I am also an observer and a finder, and this day is about what I find that I did not know.

This place is noisy and this place is a reflection of change. With every breath of wind, leaves fall in a paused, eventual and purposefully accidental, choreographed way. They fall against other leaves. They fall against the backdrop of this place. They fall against my face. They fall and they become part of this place, on this side of the wild.

Here, the acorns are part of a percussion team. Here, the black walnuts and the hickory nuts and the pecans from that tree on the hill are striped warriors falling surgically sharp to the earth below.

The acorns snare loudest. They bring a distinct pop to the ground. And they are necessary, too. For beneath these oak trees the ground is disheveled and dotted with the remnants of feeding, the empty hulls of acorns. I see no turkeys here. I see no deer here. And yet I see the signs of both, in the scratched earth. They are not here, and yet I know they are here on this side of the wild.

I walk. I am a sponge of what I thought I knew and what I discover on this path. I find this place from where I hunt. It is where I come to seek and hope to find, and when I do not, I return because finding is not always about what we touch.

I climb these steps and I look around from this place. The landscape has changed and this tree has aged, and yet I recognize the fine stitches that sew this place into a cloak of memory. The rocks and the moss, cold and gray. The rotting log is softer and soon this will be dirt, and from this dirt a tree will grow strong and tall and bold and beyond.

And this hill where magic happens in the fall is still magical, to me. I see that early morning, when the frost was cold and my son was steady by my side. I see that afternoon when the rain was light and all was silent and my youngest son was patient. From this place, I see these things and I feel these things and these things are what I find, here on this side of the wild.

I am careful now, with my steps in this creek. These rocks are slick from the water and from the silt and the mud. I am careful, here. I am quiet, here. And yet, my feet in the water and my careful quiet are not enough as I see the hen turkey, flee ahead. She is more alert than I. She is more natural here than I. She is part of this place and familiar with this place and her feet and her senses and her ways are wild, here. I watch her disappear into the places that are thick and laden with briars and in a moment, she is gone.

I pause. I reflect. It is written that we humans are at the top of a chain. This is written by a human, I’m sure. Yet, when it involves the places where the acorns are like snare drums and the grass moves with a rhythm and the gray walk is covered in the green moss, then we humans are not at the top of a chain. We are merely visitors, here. We are observers, here. We are seekers, here. This place, known as the wild side.

Enjoy your time outdoors.

You can reach Jason Hawkins at hawkinsoutdoors@msn.com

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