I've sat among the hardwoods for many mornings, watching the sun rise and feeling its rays on my face as the first light filters through the trees. The woods slowly wakes and begins to come alive all around me. The birds rehearse their songs and the squirrels leave their warm nests to venture out and get an early start on their busy day. Sometimes, if you pay attention, you can hear a turkey gobble, or the sound of a pileated woodpecker off in the next holler. It's a scene that has been played out since creation. No matter what the circumstances are in our modern society, life in the natural world continues on.
Standing knee-deep in the cold water of a mountain stream, I am taken captive by my surroundings, feeling as if somehow I am becoming part of this place by merely standing still and allowing it to consume me. The sound of the rushing waters is soothing because after a while it begins to drown out all of the thoughts that I normally dwell on. Rivers have a calming effect on people, and it is said that in some cultures a troubled person would be taken there and left overnight to ease their minds and soothe their spirits. The Cherokees would walk into the river every morning in the ritual of "Going to Water", and they saw the river as a gift from the Creator.
Making my way through thick brush along the edge of an old hay field, I am startled by the sudden chaos of a covey of quail taking flight right in front of me. Though my heart has jumped into my throat, the exhilaration floods my soul with joy. This, to me, is a gift from God. Even the things that take me by surprise, like jumping a deer, or seeing a coyote heading toward me while sitting on the ground, with my back against a tree, is at last, a gift.
Archibald Rutledge called these things, "Life's Extras", and I fully agree with that. These are the type of things that stay with you, long after the adventure is over.