AN AFTERNOON WITH NATURE

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Submitted Date 09/22/2019
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Summer's sweet scent fills your nostrils as you inhale a deep breath of the warm air around you. The sun's shimmering rays can be seen peeking through the towering, mighty trees whose stout, thick trunks surround you. You catch just a glimpse of bright and colorful songbirds flitting through the deep jade foliage.

As you take a step, the leaves of last year's summer crunch beneath your boots. A doe who sniffs and rummages the forest's floor lifts her head, searching for the sound. You watch as she surveys her surroundings—her wide, black eyes scanning. Her left ear twitches suddenly, and you watch as she flies deep into the forest, until you can see her no longer.

A small, brown squirrel chirps as he scales up the monumental fir tree ahead of you. His bushy tail flicks and twitches, and he calls for his mate. Soon, more chirping fills your ears, along with the chatter of rustling leaves as the pair jumps from branch to branch.

You begin to walk away from the sunlight high above you; warmth caresses your back as you trod along. You reach a creek, whose cool waters trickle downstream. You peer over the water and see tiny grey fish dashing from side to side. As you kneel to peer closer, they catch wind of you and hastily flit behind a large, jagged stone in the stream.

You reach into the creek and fill your hands with its cool water. You bring them to your face, and the refreshing, crystal liquid runs down your flushed cheeks. Droplets flick from your lashes as you bat your eyes. Then, you stand and continue down your path.

You tread languidly along the creek—traveling opposite of its current. A breeze sweeps through the lively forest and catches in your hair, sending strands wisping around your face. The warm kiss of air feels gentle and refreshing on your skin. You glance up, and peeking above the dense, green leaves of the trees, you catch a glimpse of the saturated blue sky.

With his wings spread wide, an eagle suddenly soars by, high above in the distant, open air. He drifts on the wind like a ship with high sails on the sea. He dips, and down, down he goes. With a flap of his wings, up he flies until he dips again into a wide, searching circle. You wonder what he sees up there. Can he see beneath the trees? Are you just a shadow hidden amongst the trees? Soon, he disappears behind the thick fingers of reaching branches above you.

You continue trodding along by the bubbling creek's edge. Birds cry their cheerful songs as they swoop through the forest. You hear the wary bleats of frogs that hastily leap into the rolling waters as your footsteps approach them. They splash with an audible plop.

You trek down your unseen path for some while. Eventually, you approach a massive tree that has fallen across the stream. Its girth is about as wide as you are tall, and its roots, ripped from the earth, stand high over you. Green, blue, and white moss and lichen cling to its trunk. In its deep shadows, you can just make out lively, black tadpoles flitting from one side of the creek to the other. With a smile, you proceed past nature's old, withered bridge.

Your eager legs take you far along this path in this peaceful, animated woodland. You follow the creek until you approach its end, or maybe its beginning: a large, dark pool. The ground ahead suddenly shifts upward, and far above you is a waterfall coursing into the body of water. Its gentle roar fills your ears as you step closer to the pool.

With a grin, you shrug off your worn, white t-shirt, then unlace your loved hiking boots. You shimmy off your baggy, torn shorts and toss your clothing beside the water's edge. The earth is warm beneath your bare feet. Standing at the edge of the pool, you dip your toes in the cool, inviting water. Then, as you take a deep breath, you step into the pool. Smooth, clinging mud encompasses your toes as you wade deeper into the creek's basin. Within a few steps, the water laps at your neck.

For a few moments, you stand with your eyes closed and enjoy the refreshing sensation of the water caressing your body. You open your eyes and gaze up; crowded tree limbs obscure your view of the afternoon sky, but peeks of bright blue shine through. High above, more squirrels chase each other in a folly game as they skitter across the limber, bouncing branches.

Beneath the water's surface, you see minuscule fish gingerly approaching your outstretched arms. Your fingers wiggle, and they quickly dash away. Fat, olive-toned frogs croak and chirp at the pool's edge. When you turn, many of them bound into the muddy waters, leaving delicate, fleeting ripples in their wake.

As you wade in the pool silently, a bright, crimson fox trots past. It sniffs the creek's edge some yards away from you. Then, it lets out an owl-like coo and continues to trot away. In the distance, you see two small, fluffy cubs emerge from under a large pile of old, withered brush. They amble to their calling mother who begins persistently licking each of their faces. Then, as if disturbed by some noise or smell, the protective dam scans the forest around her. She gives a quiet yip, and the cubs follow her back into their den.

The sun that once stood high and dazzling above you now sinks deeper amongst the trees. Reluctantly, you swim to the edge and hoist yourself onto the forest's floor. Brown, wilted leaves crunch beneath your dripping feet. You shake your relaxed limbs and send droplets flying about you. For a few lingering minutes, you take in the darkening woodland around you. Then, with a content sigh, you slip your shorts back on, throw on your t-shirt, and step into your boots. As the bright sun continues to set beyond the forest's edge, your zealous feet carry you back to the familiar, welcoming home your tired muscles long for.



 

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  • Ashley Aker 6 months, 1 week ago

    So impressed by this piece. I feel lucky to have read it this morning. I wanted to pick out a sentence or two that I felt was the strongest, but I quickly realized it is a strong product. Great use of language and the senses. I felt like I was there in the woods. This piece reminds me of the kind of writing I would like to get back to. I look forward to reading more from you, and I hope more people read this. Ashley

    • Natalie 6 months ago

      Thank you so much! I'm happy you enjoyed it. It's definitely not my usual style of writing, however I feel as if it is helping improve my sensory descriptions in all my work. Thanks for reading!