Outdoor Writers Association of America
Northwest Outdoor Writers Association
This Week's View

by Deanna L. Birkholm

December 21st, 1998

Miracles of Nature:
A Priceless Gift

Traditionally, Christmas is a time for warm memories and the gathering of friends and loved ones. It's a time to remember the one whose birthday we are celebrating. A time for families to gather around glowing Christmas trees and fireplaces.

Giving gifts is also part of the season.

This Christmas season, I have some gifts to share with you. Even "if I were a rich man," as the song from "Fiddler on the Roof" recalls, the items I could purchase from a store could never convey the spirit of this Christmas from me to you.

The gifts I offer you are not mine to give. But I hope and pray they might be yours, not only for this Christmas, but for all Christmases to come.

To you personally and to your family the gifts of love, a long and fruitful life, and at least for this season, peace, whatever your circumstances. Courage to face your daily problems. Hope, knowing even the darkest day comes to a close.

Especially for each of you, joy.

The big and little moments of joy that come from an appreciation of the wonderment that surrounds us. Yours for the small price of opening your senses to them. Yet priceless.

A flock of geese overhead. Spider webs robed in sparkling dew. A bluebird in spring. Waves of wildflowers along the roadside or on the mountain meadow. The tiniest crab scurrying across the sand. Iridescent eyes of squid reflected in the sweep of the lighthouse beacon. A western grebe cavorting in the harbor.

The kaliedoscope of color flashed by a leaping fish. Snow capped peaks. Warm spring rain in your face. Tulips and crocus peeking through the last leaves of fall. The flicker returning to the feeder with her new offspring. Wild roses on the riverbank at high water's crest. Rabbit tracks in new snow. Sunset on the mountains, pink tinged with alpine glow. Laughing loons in the morning mist.

Howls and yips of the coyote and her pups at dark. The high-pitched call of the eagle. The rush and roar of a river falling over boulders. An almost imperceptible murmur of a high country brook. Scratchy chirps of baby birds in the nest. Rustling of dry leaves in the wind. Winter winds turning the bare trees into wind harps. The steady throb of waves smashing into the shore. Muskrats kerplunking into the spring creek. Bugling elk. Soft gentle snow.

The lush heavy scents of fir and cedar. Air nearly exploding with the sweetness of the alfalfa harvest. Crisp nose-tingling cold of sub-zero mornings. Heady drifts of smoke from the burning of fall leaves. Musky marshes. Perfumed clouds of blossoming fruit trees. Freshly cut grass. Newly turned soil, warm in your hands. Peepers in spring.

Marshmallow waterfalls cascading downstream. Tadpoles scurring about. Fuzzy baby ducks. Whiffs of dandelions in the wind. Mare's tail clouds high in the summer sky. Magical hummingbirds. Quacks from unseen ducks. A fairy ring of mushrooms. Golden tamarack needles carpeting the ground. The booming of a fall grouse, echoing back from boulders.

Gatherings of birds on a wire. Fall magnolia buds puffing themselves up for spring. Gophers stretching on their tippy toes, faces to the sun, soaking up the spring sunshine. Bracken unfurling. Red, gold and yellow of trees framed against granite outcroppings. A heron, standing on one foot, poised for dinner. Blue meadow skippers sipping russian thistle.

Trumpeter swans drifting across a deep blue sky. Dahl porpoises playing tag. Mamma merganser with her babies hitch-hiking safely on her back. Nodding mounds of trillium. Pebble beaches and skipping stones. Tide pools. Sea quills and bright starfish. Squeaky docks. Waterlilies with breeze ruffled leaves. Sandhill cranes clacking and preening in a meadow. Aspens strewing their leaves like sequins. Red osier against gray skies. Creeping arbutus. A fork in the trail. Riffles and holding water. Rising trout.

There is a world full of miracles. Just for us. More than a lifetime full of pleasure and joy. Yes, each of these miracles is yours. Your gift to have and share. Yours to file away in your personal memory bank to draw out whenever you wish, or need. Forever.

The happiest of holidays to your and yours from J. Castwell and the Ladyfisher!
~ Deanna Birkholm

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