by Sandy Swegel
Traffic jams and Mother Nature conspired yesterday to make me notice. I had to get to work early and as I reached the top of a hill I could see the traffic on the single highway was at a dead stop for miles. In my hurry that day I had also let my cell phone battery run down and the car charger was suddenly broken. I decided I was too impatient to wait and tried a detour but soon it was obvious a thousand other people were trying this too. So I was driving about five miles per hour for 45 minutes with no smartphone, no music or news to listen to, and it was the best thing that happened to me all week.
Forced idleness tricked me into simply being and observing. My detour took me thru areas of small farms just after sunrise. So many wonders.
There was a hundred-year-old cottonwood tree with only the outer three feet of all the branches turned bright yellow. Every other leaf was dark green. It looked like a punk rocker hairstyle. Then traffic inched on and I saw fields of organic kale. Some frozen solid and white frosted. Others just an acre away but three feet or so upslope were dark green. Cold sinks into low areas and that morning the frost line ran right through the field of kale. Traffic inched forward and I saw flocks of chickens put out to free range surrounded by the flimsiest electric fence. I laughed out loud and remembered my first chickens where we installed one of those portable electric fences. We stood back proudly and watched as our chickens figured out right away that even with clipped wings they could fly up to the top of the short electric fence and not get shocked because they were birds and didn’t have a foot touching the ground to conduct electricity. They just jumped off into a neighboring field.
The rest of the slow ride gave me dozens more magical moments. A hay field already finished for the year had hot air ballooners just starting to inflate tiny collapsed balloons. Down the way, llamas stood at fierce guard between the big noisy cars and their sheep munching quietly in the background. Hawks and huge birds of prey were swooping as if on roller coasters on the winds coming off the mountain
I hope events conspire to give you a rest sometime. Life is so busy and full of thinking and doing that we grown-ups don’t get delighted so often. And much as we’d like, we can’t force the magic. I drove the same way home that day. The cottonwood tree had turned more normal yellow during the day. The chickens were locked away safely from coyotes and I forgot to look for the llamas because I was thinking about dinner. So if you have a moment today when the grandeur of Nature breaks through the mundane…be sure to notice and be happy.