Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Zen of Wild Turkeys and Snakes

It was a beautiful day here in Minnesota. Sunny. Light winds. Spring time temperatures. The perfect conditions for having encounters with other creatures!

Now, I'm not talking aliens. I'm talking wild turkeys and snakes.

After parking my bike this morning, I walked behind a construction site near our zen center. Turning the corner, I came nearly face to face with two wild turkeys. Wild turkeys sightings have become more common in the city in recent years, but I haven't been close enough to almost touch one - until this morning. As they strutted along in front of me, I just stood there, watching their funny necks move, and thinking "what is this?"

What is this? Not just the turkeys right in front of me, but the whole experience of living at that moment. Their appearance startled me out of morning sleepiness, and that general apathy we so often have towards our lives when things aren't "exciting" or "dramatic".

Apparently, being startled into the moment was the story of the day. This afternoon, as I biked on a trail along the Mississippi, I felt myself lost in gaze. The sun shining over the river, and all the little green plants shooting from the ground after a long winter were just too much. Gazing at it all as I peddled, I felt a bit punch drunk, loving spring for being spring. At one point, I vaguely saw something laying in the middle of the trail, and before I knew it, I had run over a snake.

It was a small snake, and I'm guessing I only hit it's hind end because almost immediately after I registered it's snakeness, and my tire going over it, the snake was gone into a patch of brush. I stopped and went looking for it, but couldn't find it.

Later, I took a hike in the woods - maybe a mile away from where I hit the snake. It was a section that had been partially cleared away, where shrub trees mingled with upturned soil, broken beer bottles, and chunks of stone near the river shore. I was enjoying walking around down there when a train came along the tracks and slowed to a stop not too far from me. Figuring I was trespassing, I decided to make a quick exit, walking back up the hill I had come down into the wooded patch from. About half way up, I looked down just as my foot was about to land on - you guessed it - another snake. Two in fact. Almost exactly the same size and color as the one I had hit.

I watched as the snakes slithered away, and then finished the walk back to my bicycle. No creatures were upset the rest of the way home.

1 comment:

Algernon said...

Wonderful stories. (The snake that met your bicycle was probably okay.)