The deep woods offer a kind of “at peace” quality to you as you sit down in the midst of them. That quality begins to seep into you and take you over within a very few minutes after you arrive in those woods and quiet yourself.

I would warmly recommend the experience for anyone for a couple of hours once a week. Of course one will argue, “How could I possibly find time for another experience in my already too-busy life?” Well, take along a book or write a letter or take a nap part of the time, if you feel you must be “doing” something. I’ve always admired the person who can just sit.

Suddenly a loon makes a very direct flight right over the small open space above me. He announces himself first with his two-note call before he appears. He wings his way over and disappears behind me in the direction of Ham Lake.

I always have the feeling that loon is on a direct fight to somewhere — no drifting around lazily, high up on air drafts with the loon. He’s about his business and no shilly-shallying around.

A bit of a somber note is that two loons hatched a half dozen baby loons, much to our delight. Then bald eagle appeared, and soon, no more baby loons. Eagle could be innocent ... but ...

Bird life multiplies as I sit still here. Wouldn’t you know that just as I am about to wax eloquent on the wonder of stillness in the deep woods, the woodland creatures decide to stage a parade in front of me.

Pileated woodpecker appears, low on a small tree about 20 feet to my left. Now hairy woodpecker appears on a tall pine to my left and slightly behind. And now the two of them begin hammering away as if their lives depend on it, the pileated with his deeper, louder banging.

And now the blue jays come in, a half dozen of them, some within a dozen feet in front of me. Why are they here? Do they nest nearby? Why would they be nesting at this time of the year?

Now there’s a spectacle. Gray squirrel just dashed by on the ground, not 6 feet in front of me, apparently without noticing I was here. But that is not the spectacle. He is being chased by some creature half his size. Was it a vole or something?

Now there is a flutter of wings a few feet above and behind me, which disappears before I can spot it. Something must have spotted my red cap and flew in to check on it. It sounded like a jay.

I don’t want to close today before remarking on the flora. Plants always interest me, and they are a changing vision.

A big double Norway pine grows up to my left. It is wedded like one tree at its base for two feet up from the ground. Curious. Was it two trees that began growing very closely and just combined forces?

I’m drawn to the prevalence of the purple flat-topped aster. They are appearing more now, even in the deep  woods. And many woodland sunflowers appear now. They give great color to the autumn woodlands.

James Alger, who lives in Fargo, N.D., has been a summer resident of the Leech Lake area with his family for over 45 years. Over that time he has grown to love and appreciate the people and the woodlands of this area.


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