What a Difference That’s Made

img_5138Last Friday I left the house early to run. The moon was still high and bright in the bluing sky, and I watched it over my shoulder, frayed clouds passing across it at irregular intervals. The road passed a sugarbush, and there my view was altered by the long bones of leafless maples, half-lit and shadowy. I liked how the moon seemed to bounce in time to the rhythm of my steps. Ball-like.

A bit farther down the road I came to the tracks of a large deer. It’d been warm the day before, and the tracks were sunk into the road surface. But overnight the road had frozen, and there’d been a wisp of snow. The snow had softened the hard cloven edges of the tracks, and so they looked much like little hearts pressed into the road, just visible in the milky pre-dawn light. I followed them until they veered into the woods.

It’s funny how that moon and those tracks have stuck with me, how much pleasure they’ve brought me over the intervening almost-week. I keep returning to them, again and again, as if they held some meaning beyond their inherent beauty and my good fortune at bearing witness to that beauty, though I know without a doubt how ridiculous this is. Just a moon. Just some tracks. On any other morning, I might have hardly noticed either.

But on this one, I did. And what a difference that’s made.





19 thoughts on “What a Difference That’s Made”

  1. It is the individual with a prepared mind and open spirit who manages to appreciate nature’s infinite beauty AND meaning!

  2. That’s just it. Showing up and noticing. Those moments aren’t nothing, they are everything.
    On another note, “long bones of the leafless maples,” poetry.

  3. I love the bluing sky of the predawn light…evokes a deep connection to the cycle for me.

    Simple images of the natural world *should* stick with us, they are an elemental essence of life.

  4. I think it takes a certain state of mind, a way of thinking and living life, to notice and appreciate certain aspects of beauty in the natural world. (A good state of mind. One that I’m trying to cultivate in my daughter.) Most people notice the brilliant sunset, but tracks in the snow? Not so many.

  5. I was looking at the moon on the same night. Maybe even thinking of all the creatures, humans included, looking up at the same moon. It creates a feeling of kinship in me. And peace.

    Deer tracks and long bones. That’s poetry, all right.

  6. I love this and had a similar experience way out west here in Idaho. We have had copious amounts of powder this winter and we have all been skiing everywhere and at all hours. During the full moon I skied in the night 3 days in a row and was amazed by the beauty and wonder of it all. One morning I was out at 5, under the full moon, and skied until the sun rose into a clear, cold sky. As I bombed through fresh powder, down the endless powdery meadows, I followed the tracks of a coyote hunting rodents in the open fields. For some reason that also really stuck with me.

  7. Love those heart shaped tracks! My youngest pointed at the pattern of knots in the boards of our shed the other day and said they looked like deer tracks. And you know what? They do – a fact I have never noticed before. I tell them often what good “noticers” they are as I think that is one of the best skills I can encourage (and in myself, too.) Thanks for the beautiful word pictures and the lovely photo.

  8. I really enjoyed reading this post. There are many beautiful things in nature like this, and it’s great to share them and great to read about them.

  9. Hi Ben, I sent you an email a while back regarding a proposition to translate “Homegrown” in french. Since it may have been in your spam section, I thought I’d try to reach you here as well. If you’re interested, just let me know and I’ll resend an email to tell you a bit more about it.
    Antoine Maussion

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