By Becky England
One beautiful day in January, I received word that a friend had passed away during the night in her sleep. She was one of the sweetest people to grace my life, and there have been many. Not long after that, my heart wanted to be in the sweet solitude of nature, so I drove the short distance to Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center at Cedar Hill.
In January the ground is covered in leaf litter and the beauty of the tree bark and branch form is visible. Noises seem a little crisper because photosynthesis has slowed and Mother Nature is doing her work underground and perhaps thinking about putting on spring buds. Her processes aren’t readily visible with her bright colors and soft new growth to distract the senses as it is in spring and summer. Along the trail are signs of the abundance of life not only for fellow creatures but for human souls. There are acorns dropped from the many oak trees, seeds from grasses and forbs, lichens and a plethora of proof that life continues even in this season of winter which we deem dark and cold.
When I stopped to take in the sights and calm my spirit, I was presented with a gift: the sound of a Tufted Titmouse (Parus bicolor) and the sight of a Carolina Chickadee (Parus carolinensis) .In the distance I could see a Red-tailed Hawk (Butco jamaicensis) circling. I began to question which type of bird I always saw sitting on the fence row out on the Llano Estacado where I grew up. Was it this Red-tailed Hawk (Butco jamaicensis), an American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) that I keep hearing so much about, or some other species yet unknown to me since I am just in my infancy stages of bird identification?
And then my mind wandered up into the Panhandle where my friend no longer greets people with her warmth at the Golden Plains Community Hospital as an Auxiliary Volunteer. I would rather not think of the new hospital in Borger, Texas without her, but I learned a long time ago that “everything changes.” Life goes on even when we really do not want it or expect it to, it does, in the simplest of ways. Beauty enfolded me with the bright sun light pouring in through the tree branches and the cool whispering wind murmuring to me through Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana). That reminded me of the one-seed juniper (Juniperus monosperma) that Georgia O’Keefe loved about Palo Duro Canyon when she taught art at my alma marte, West Texas A&M University. Nature offers so many things if we are willing to accept them. Today our hurried lives push us further away from connecting to forces that nourish us at the very basic level or shall I say our roots. When we spend time in nature we can build memories with family or friends, discover new interests, find a new adventure, or soothe a soul in pain. So I challenge you that the next time you find yourself in distress, head to Dogwood Canyon, Getzendaner Park or any outdoor space and take time to let nature soothe your soul.