The More I Look, the More I See

     I went outside a few mornings ago and stood around in the snow for awhile.  Just standing around may seem like an aimless activity, but I’ve learned that staying in one spot for a bit is the best way to really see.

     While I’ve always enjoyed looking about at the landscape while taking a brisk walk, it took me many years to realize that there was far more to be seen than I was able to take in when moving at a fast clip.  It sounds obvious, but–the more I look, the more I see.

      Take my recent morning, for instance.  Standing in the snow among some trees near our house, I first took in the distinct differences in bark on the several types of trees around me–the deeply furrowed bark of the old chestnut oaks, the smooth bark of young red maples, and the darkly outlined facets of the pine’s trunk. 

     I looked admiringly at three chestnut oaks growing out of the same base.  Only because I stayed stationary for a little while did I notice signs of major woodpecker action on one of the three.  A long, vertical, gouged opening in the trunk told me that a pileated woodpecker had been there.   

     As I stepped closer, I saw that the bird had given the tree quite a workover.  The elongated hole went deep into the trunk.  And it appeared that this woodpecker had even pecked out a second hole, still deeper into the tree from a perch it had made within the first hole. 

     This oak tree must be quite a favorite of the woodpeckers.  Above the long, large hole the pileated woodpecker had made was a small circular one.  And when I stepped around to the other side of the tree, I saw two more small, fresh-looking openings, the round kind made by the smaller woodpeckers we see around here, perhaps a downy, or maybe a red-belly.    

     And, as I stood there, I could see that the work of these birds had been recent.  Bits of fresh wood littered the snow near the tree. 

     As I walked on a little, I stopped to gaze at a handsome tree that reached its bare arms grandly to the sky.  What was it, I wondered.  Any nearby fallen leaves that could have given me my answer were covered with snow.  As I stared upward at the branches that became thinner as they reached higher, I noticed two prickly little spheres hanging in the uppermost branches.  They were this tree’s last ones, but they were enough to tell me their handsome owner was a sweet gum tree.

     Heading back toward home, I stopped to gaze at a tree I ‘know.’  With its proximity to the glass doors of our bedroom, this red maple is a much-watched tree.  As I looked up at the maple’s slight, graceful branches, I savored their bare winter beauty.  Almost the way I might remember my grown son at earlier phases of his life, I recalled watching, many months ago, when the first moist green leaves began to emerge and hang, folded, from the branches.  I thought about how they opened and grew, toughening with the passing months, until their green finally gave way to orange and red, and then the tree released them and they fell to the ground.  All this I could see as I gazed at the silent, grey being I look at so often.

     As I look longer and longer, and see more and more, I think of George Washington Carver, who said, “If you love something enough, it will yield its secrets to you.”  I imagine he meant that when he studied a plant with focused and tender attention, he noticed more, and his knowledge of the plant grew.  The longer I look, the more I take in.  And the more I take in, the more there is for me to love.–April Moore

 

 

 

pileated woodpecker's hole, with another hole drilled deeper within

pileated woodpecker's hole, with another hole drilled deeper within

4 Responses to “The More I Look, the More I See”

  1. Jan Elvin Says:

    This is lovely, April. You remind us how good it is to slow down and take in the beauty around us. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  2. Livvie Mellan Shapiro Says:

    I second Jan’s thought, sweet April.. Happy holidays to you and Andy and the whole family! Love, Livvie

  3. Joan Kelly Says:

    Awww – - thanks so much, April. It reminded of the discovery that the more time “I” spend being quiet and really looking around “me” applies to much more than just nature. The world and the people that inhabit it open up when we just really pay gentle attention.

    Have wonderful Holidays … all year long.

  4. Joan Brundage Says:

    Thanks for reminding me to slow down so I can enjoy beauty around me more deeply. Have a joyous peaceful holiday season!

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