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Tue, Sep 30, 2014 11:51 AM
Issue of September 24, 2014
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Why go into the woods?


Community conversations


July 02, 2014 | 10:29 AM

This morning a big, threatening, flying insect invaded our cabin in the woods. When I say big, I really mean a huge critter in the insect world.

My husband, Don, immediately knew this was not something that we wanted hanging around to do its tricks on us. By the time I saw the insect, it was smashed under a napkin on the floor.

I immediately ran for a bug book and my iPad to find out more about this rarely seen, fierce-looking insect. It identified as a hornet, and not just any hornet, but the queen herself.

What a thing to find living in our home. When threatened, they send out chemical odors that alert the whole nest; there is the potential of an attack from thousands of these venomous creatures. The stings of several can be fatal, and. to someone with an allergy to them, it takes only one. And, yes, these are the hornets that make those beautiful paper-thin hanging nests that we admire.

Nature is a mix of the most spectacular beauty and the harshest survival conditions. It is often tempting to just enjoy it from the safety of our buildings. The dynamics of nature can be viewed on YouTube each day as we sit comfortably in front of our computer. Or, with a pair of binoculars, I can scope out the wildest of things from my living room window without getting wet. Why would I ever go out into the woods?

I found myself sitting on a bench in the front yard right after the threatening hornet experience. At first, my senses where focused on the harshness of the environment. The grass was wet, and I had on new shoes; maybe I should go back in. The bees were out for their morning romp; who needed a bee bite to start the day. And to add insult to threatening injury, a mosquito stung me right where I couldn't scratch in the middle of my back.

Why go out into the woods anyway?

But wonder of wonders: as I sat quietly, the world began to open up with all its grandeur. Those raucous souls, the crows, called from a distance. What mischievousness had they been up to? Six Canada geese joined the serenade with an alarm that a predator might be approaching. That would be me, I suppose. They honked around for a while, sounding quite defensive, and then settled down to nipping at the early spring grasses. Those dew drops that I had at first seen as a threat to my shoes now sparkled brighter than a diamond. The sun rose in the sky, promising a new day with all its possibilities for the next 24 hours coupled with the assurance that nature's cycle would perform just as it has for millions of years. Ants skirted back and forth with urgency; they were on some important mission through the grass. Even the wind played a soothing melody through the new spring tree leaves.

It is hard to feel like an isolated being on an impersonal planet while bathing quietly in the outdoors. Go into your own backyard today and just sit and wait and observe. You will feel a part of this mysterious system called life. You are not alone. You are supported by all the laws of nature and linked to all forms of its life.

Harrison County has many wonderful parks that allow you access to the great outdoors on your own terms.

If you want to see the woods while atop a horse, there are facilities for riding and camping at O'Bannon Woods State Park. If your legs are not your strong point, Hayswood Nature Reserve and O'Bannon Woods have nature trails that make the wilds available to all with the aid of wheelchairs. Buffalo Trace Park has grown into a wonderful community asset with all kinds of outdoor opportunities. Hayswood has a beautifully restored iron bridge on a trail which will someday be connected to the trail that winds around Doolittle Hill and Big Indian Creek in Corydon. Lanesville's Walter Q. Gresham Park is a grand place to enjoy a picnic or a whizz-bang heritage festival. South Harrison Park provides camping in a woodland garden atmosphere. These are just a few of our county's outdoor resources.

The sun is high in the sky now. The sweat bees are out, and I am a good target for their snooping. I think it is time to go in, but I am not the same hesitant participant in nature I was an hour ago. I have been immersed in the universe and found that I like it.

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