A few weeks ago friends invited me along on a nature walk in a state forest. To promote conservation efforts, members of the local Audobon Society led these walks where they could tell people about the plants and animals.
We had a group of about 15 people, including three guides. All three guides were older gentlemen, sensibly dressed in sun hats, cargo pants and long sleeved shirts. Binoculars and cameras hung from their necks, and they carried thick bird guides in their hands.
At first the pace was difficult for us. Difficult as in slow. We moved about 20 feet in 20 minutes because the guides stopped to point out plants by their Latin names, and three types of dragonflies, and even a bed of fire ants.
My friends and I generally hike at a quicker pace because we're intent on reaching on camp site and setting up before the sun drops. But in this case we had no particular place we had to be. And pretty soon we began to slow down and see the virtue in the small things.
You don't have to come face to face with a bear to have an interesting hike. The little creatures and the plants and the trees can be fascinating, too. At one spot along the trail, when the party had stretched out over about 50 yards, we spotted a lizard on a tree trunk with something in his mouth. A closer look and we discovered he had a yellow jacket in his jaws, and he gulped it down while we watched.
That's one tough lizard. A yellow jacket bit me on the hand once and it swelled up like a catcher's mitt.
But my point is that these guides reminded us of the beauty of nature all around us, from the largest tree to the smallest lizard. And that's worth remembering as we all hurtle through life, yapping on our cell phones as we race from one appointment to another.
So take a moment this weekend and watch a bee work. Or listen to a bird sing. Or smell a flower as you pass by. It's worth it.
(please note this bird pic is from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/)