• Emily

Open Eyes

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

mule deer buck

I went for a hike today, stretching my legs and getting above the valley floor for the first time in a while. Fall is always a busy season on the homestead, between processing produce and harvesting crops, wrapping up one year’s garden and preparing for the next. This fall has been particularly busy with the joys and conflicts of life interrupting our working rhythm. A new love. A death in the family. Fatigue, hope, struggle, and change.

sunset over the shrub steppe

So on this clear November afternoon, Shadow and I lit out for the “highlands”—the shrub-steppe wilderness that comprises most of our property—to breathe in the quiet of a season’s end. The setting sunlight illuminated grasses as they bent and swayed in the wind. We crossed a valley and came up the lea side of the slope, shaded by scrappy oaks that clung to the hill.

the sun shines through the dry grasses

As we came out of the trees, I caught sight of a mule deer buck watching us silently from the sagebrush. His body was rigid, ears erect, careful eyes watching every movement. I stopped to watch him for a few minutes, and as the sun set behind the ridge he faded almost to a silhouette. Shadow’s attention, which had been occupied with the scents she was picking up on our trail, shifted to him and she lunged forward. Like a flash, he was gone, bounding down the opposite side of the hill and out of sight.

Those moments of silence, senses alive, brought me back to this place I love. Rooting me. Grounding me. Focusing my mind on the pulse and rhythm of this land. There’s work to be done yet before the year’s end and work to begin in the new one, but the heart of this place—the beauty and stillness that it offers—will always be there, waiting for my open eyes.

sunset behind the silhouetted pines


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