A log with a view
A rambling by Donna Scanlon,
July 1999

It was midway through our family trip -- I refuse to call anything that leaves me more tired at its end than when I started a "vacation" -- and my nerves were strained and jangled. I needed something. I thought I needed an opportunity to read and write uninterrupted. When my husband decided to take the children canoeing on the campground's lake, I jumped at the chance to write a review and start a new book in peace

They paddled off in their red canoe, leaving me on the shore with my notebook, the book I planned to review, and the new book. I had two glorious hours to myself, and I sat down on a comfortable and convenient log to get to work.

I wrote the review, then picked up the new book. After a few pages, I looked up to rest my eyes and stared out across the lake. I felt a light breeze but heard few sounds, especially human sounds, even though the camp store where we rented the canoe was just down the path. I heard the lap of the water against the shore, the leaves rustling, the occasional call of the loon.

Dragonflies darted around me. The campground was full of them, vivid green and blue jewels that hovered in the air. These, however, were black with white patches on either side of their abdomens. One perched on the toe of my sneaker, calmly checking out this new protuberance in the landscape. I noticed a millipede roiling through the grass just to the right of my foot and wondered at its coordination of all those legs. I looked over my shoulder in time to see a black squirrel prance by not two feet away from me, carrying a treat in its mouth, and a chipmunk peered at me from behind a log across the path.

The book slipped from my hand, and I sat and watched and listened for an hour or more. Life teemed around me -- insects, birds and animals going about their business and none of them giving a whisker or a wing for my presence.

When the canoe finally glided up to the bank, I felt as if I'd had a long, refreshing nap. I felt restored, and I realized that this was what I need when I'm feeling enervated: I need to stop and watch. Certainly, it is important, it is necessary to participate in the world, but sometimes, it is good to simply watch.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]