You can't have your nose in a book all the time. Today I went for a 3-hour hike in the Sonoran Desert with my friend, Marlene, and her dog, Rocky. Along the trail Rocky stopped next to a pair of trees, sniffing upwards toward the higher branches, jumping a bit to get a better sniff. "What do you see, Rocky?" we asked, peering into the branches that had caught the attention of his nose.
Marlene looked at the second tree, which was upwind of us, and matter-of-factly said, "Oh, there's a deer leg in the tree." My brain turned over what she had said. Ordinary words; basic vocabulary, but put together in a combination that gave me pause. "There's a deer leg in the tree." Now, over the years I have read countless books, newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, and other published flotsam and jetsam. I've listened to hours of television, movies, radio, records and live performances. According to my memory bank, this was new material.
I looked where Marlene and Rocky were looking: There was a deer leg in the tree. The small black hoof pointing through the branches, toward the sky. The other end, typically a point of attachment to the full deer, directed towards the ground, looking a bit like a stick. Not particularly gruesome, just odd.
Marlene, who'd seen this phenomenon before, gave me an explanation. Since I was busy mulling over what it was that I had seen, I didn't completely grasp all she said other than, I think, if you are hiking and find a deer leg, the correct procedure is to put it in a tree.
I mention this all because we are coming to the end of the calendar year, and this is a time we reflect on what we've done and what we'd like to do. In 2010, I want to increase my "noticing" - noticing flowers, sunsets, and shadows; examining places close to home that I walk by, but have never yet visited; stopping at the scenic overlook; closing my eyes and identify how many different sounds I can hear. Maybe I'll notice more strange things, like a deer leg in a tree. Hopefully, I'll see things that are more beautiful. But ultimately, I resolve to see and hear as much as I can in each day.
And I can't wait for my next hike!