It is always a pleasure to experience nature and the marvels it has to offer. Most all occasions offer some sort of delightful surprise and it is only a matter of recognizing and excepting it as a beneficial aspect of life.

I spend much time hiking the prairie lands that I am fortunate to live within. Wide sweeping vistas of rolling hills and grasslands that at initial look seem to be just big spaces of grass, trees, and rock. I say “just” because I believe this is how many see these lands. This doesn’t apply to only these types of lands but possibly to most type of lands. Unless there is some great “in your face” immediate scene they will more than likely be looked over as just places with little to offer. I find such attitudes sad. Not sad for me personally but sad for those who I know miss the much greater long-lasting pleasure of understanding our lives on this rotating, orbiting place we call earth.

Every so often as I am enjoying my time surrounded by nature there comes flashes of life. Not in the sense of split-second moments that vanish as fast as they appear. Those moments do happen but, they never vanish at all. For the brief moments that I may be fortunate enough to be witness to such things, they produce magical thoughts that etch memories deep into my spirit that can never be taken away. This happens regularly simply by looking at beautiful landscapes. Though the landscape is not just a brief flash of beauty it can pose questions as to what is our part when we choose to place ourselves in such places.

A few days ago I hiked a hillside that was lush with new spring growth. I have always been keenly aware of the flora of lands. Plants have never seemed foreign to me. I’m kind of a plant-loving person. I always have questioned that I mostly pose to myself as to what kind of plant is it that I am seeing. What is it’s benefits to the land it grows on? How does it grow in such places? How big will it get? What will it’s blooms look like, and the questions go on and on. I have spent time over the years educating myself to such things but, as I have mentioned before, there will never be enough time in one’s life to know all that one may desire to know. I kind of like it that way. Knowing the learning process will never end if one chooses to not let it end.

A couple of hours had passed by taking pictures of the landscape when a small bird flew up from only a couple of feet from where I was slowly walking. As usual, I stopped and watched it fly to a nearby tree. Understanding a few things about the bird life on the prairie and being the springtime of the year I knew it was possibly one of the many ground-nesting birds that inhabit these lands. I have, on many occasions closely explored areas that I have seen birds fly up from in hopes of possibly discovering a nest. Most times they fly away well before I get near leaving me not knowing exactly where they had come from. This was not the case this time. This feathered friend sat tight until the last moment of my approach. I know I could have walked right by it, within inches and not even noticed had it not flew.

Well, the rest, as they say, is history. Looking down I could tell there was a small nest partially hidden in the surrounding plants and blending in perfectly with the ground. It was a first, I finally found a nest of a ground-nesting bird without even trying! At that moment I felt like an intruder because I actually was. I was intruding in this birds home. Not only it’s home but, it soon to be offspring. In a brief holding my breath type of moment I took a couple of pictures and moved well on my way. As usual, as I moved away I looked back and spoke to my still strange feathered friend letting it know I meant no harm and hoping I did not disrupt what is an important moment in its life.

So life continues, new memories made. The brief flash of a bird flying away led to another of my great magical moments that have etched memories into my spirit once again.

Prairie bird nest

© Brad Mangas