Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sorting Out the "Needs"

courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey

Ahead of me on the trail, my husband stopped suddenly and studied the brush to one side. “Look, look, look!” he said in excited, hushed tones. There, among the greenery, crouched a small, furry animal. About the size of a small rabbit, with grey, catlike fur, small ears and big, unblinking eyes, it eyed us with its mouth literally stuffed with leaves. We waited for it to run for cover, but it seemed frozen in place. Obviously frightened, its only movement was rapid breathing. We whispered to each other a moment, then backed off to give the creature room - my husband moving up the trail a bit and me moving back. Then it ran all right, but instead of heading off into the woods, it scurried straight up the path toward my husband, nearly crashing right into his boots before veering across to the other side, through the grass and under a large log. I watched it go and noticed it had a very poor excuse of a tail. We stood by and quietly watched for a while, hoping it would come out on the other side of the log, or maybe return the way it had come, but there was only silence. Neither of us had any idea what it was.

We’d taken this day to hike the Spruce Railroad Trail along Lake Crescent on the Olympic peninsula west of Port Angeles. It was one of those “two days in August” that I jokingly refer to as Puget Sound’s summer. The day was perfect - clear, quiet and sunny, the lake glass-smooth. As we reached the half-way point and began to hike back to the car, I kept thinking of that little critter and its odd behavior. Passing the log again, we kept alert for signs of the animal, to no avail.

courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey

At home, I looked in our field guide to discover it was an Aplodontia, what most folks call a Mountain Beaver. The young are slate-brown, rather than dark brown, and - they build hay piles along their runways in late summer/early fall. Suddenly it all made sense - young, inexperienced, frightened out of its wits, but with a built-in program that said: “Prepare for winter!!” So, ignoring possible danger, it blundered ahead on its established route and tried to do just that. Now, as winter  approaches, I think of that little animal and hope that it succeeded in putting enough away to make it through. Its life will depend of that.

We live, these days, in a frenzied world. It’s so easy to be distracted with all kinds of things pulling at our time and energy. This season brings particular stresses along with special delights.

Perhaps we could learn something from the Mountain Beaver and other creatures like him. If we sort through all of our miscellaneous "to do" lists, figure out what we really NEED to do, and attend to those things first, all else will fall into place.

And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be of anxious mind. For all the nations of the world seek these things; and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things shall be yours as well.
Luke 12.29-31

1 comment:

  1. ((i LOVE your new 'header' picture!!!!))

    ...yes..a frenzied world for sure! your stroll through the woods is awesome! amazing pictures!! it's great to open our eyes and SEE what's around us! and i love that little furry critter! a mountain beaver!? never heard of it! cool sighting!
    great post!! :]