A picture, a captured memory, an indicator, a gauge of how we measure out world. When I am outdoors the visible light spectrum generally establishes my boundaries. Coastal trails are defined by measureless, blue horizons, mountain trails by snowcapped peaks while forested hikes are confined by surrounding vegetation. Other senses come into play but my eyes dominate and define.
Movement within one’s vision plays with one’s eyes. The erratic path of a butterfly, so unlike my purposeful forward moment, penetrated my thoughts. I paused to contemplate the delicate creature’s lack of direction and pondered its ability to survive. Settling among the ageing petals of a sego lily, it created a tiny, fragile, yet regal, display of magnificence.
A king on a throne. A few inches of space dared compete with the splendor of a mountain range. Two species combined to capture the perfection of Grand Teton, they combined and gave me direction. Eyes, trained to scan distance for movement, distance for clues, would shift their focus, they would begin to explore a smaller world. Rather than see leaves and flowers as part of a world, I would look at the world contained within. I was not deluding myself, I had no intention of any scientific study, I just wanted to drive curiosity in a different direction. I wanted to look at my trail from a different perspective, I wanted to look underneath the leaves and wonder.
My search revealed a world that amused, amazed, dazzled and fascinated.
I laughed at grumpy old men.
I watched sunlight flow, nourish and illuminate.
I found pollinators associating with predators.
Predators lying in wait.
Predation and death hidden beneath beauty.
My image reflected in a predator’s eye
I found the small corners supporting the dramatic vistas that have defined my mountains. I found a different cast, a cast I knew existed but tended to ignore, a cast supporting a familiar story, supporting the balance of nature. Within my chosen layer herbivores browsed while carnivores hunted. Violent death is not limited by size.
My layer is not isolated, I watched it reach above and below. It feeds life, directly and indirectly, in all layers. It is part of the whole, a part of why I walk among the leaves and peaks. I now walk with a better understanding of how little I know—a better understanding of balance.