Morning comes early in summer. Between the light and the rising chorus of birdsong, catching a few extra winks of sleep is hard to do.
The summer solstice brought sunrise to its furthest point north along the eastern horizon, and from there the sun begins its steady march southward.
If you’re lucky enough to have a bird nest nearby, you’re all but certain to catch sight of parents winging in with the next meal delivery and hear the intermittent cries of nestlings clamoring with mouths open wide, each one begging not to be missed.
On an evening stroll to visit friends up the road recently, I turned my head to the left and stopped instantly in my tracks. I was face to face with a large doe. We both froze in place. Our eyes locked and there we stood motionless, looking at each other for the longest time. Minutes passed and yet our gaze remained unbroken.
I became aware that signs of civilization were absent within my field of vision. Behind and all around the doe there was not a fence post, a house, or any building in view. We were so close that I could have reached out and touched her. Having some experience with wildlife after years working at a wildlife recovery center, I wanted to avoid any sudden movement to prevent her from bolting in fear the very instant I moved.
After a while, I softly spoke, “I’m a friend and you are safe with me.” She was untroubled, listening, yet still locked in the moment. I continued, “I’ve so enjoyed our time together but must be on my way.” I very slowly raised my arm, pointing toward the direction I was headed, and walked away. She didn’t spook, not at all. I turned around about 20 feet later to look back and she was still watching me. I smiled and gave her a wave. She dropped her head and began nibbling grass.
This is the kind of thing that happens in our more rural neighborhoods, and likely one of the few places where even on the highway many minutes pass between speeding cars. Life has a slower pace here in summer and with it comes the awareness that we are far from alone. There is a whole natural world we often lose touch with during other times of the year.
Wildlife photographer Izzy Edwards spends countless hours searching and tracking like a hunter, essentially becoming one with the habitat of the creatures she seeks to capture on film. Once she finds her spot, she waits. And waits. Here, in Fox and Feather, a young fox right here on the Key Peninsula introduces us to its delightfully playful nature.
I can’t recall if it was during the early stages of the pandemic, but I made a concerted effort to sit outside in silence at the same place every day for at least 15 minutes and simply notice all the life that went on around me.
The demands of the civilized world to pay attention to it are endless. So many things vie for our time in our digital lives that it becomes difficult to focus on any one thing, always rushing off to the next thing, trying to keep up.
Sitting in silence and simply observing what surrounds us at that moment each day restored some of the balance I felt I was missing.
As I’ve written here many times, the Key Peninsula is extraordinarily unique, and it is the people who live and love it here who make it so. Month after month our reporters, writers and photographers bring individual people into view who are willing to share their life perspectives, their challenges and struggles — their passion for life.
In this edition, we bring you incredible stories of tragedy and triumph. We hope you will share in the depth of love and strong hearts that rise above it all to carry on.
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