Calling the animals part II

In between the wild pigs and the owl, things stayed interesting.  I completely surprised a raccoon who was gorging on holly berries just two steps from the trail.  Poor thing had to splash away when I walked by, there was so much water everywhere.  I didn't have a chance to snap a photo, but I do have evidence of his meal!

Then I strolled a little further until I encountered two squirrels crazily chasing each other along the boardwalk.  They were running at top speed toward me, completely oblivious until the first one came within about three feet of me and froze. Then the other one froze.  Where to go?  Into the water? Past me?  Back the other way?  The three of us stared at each other with quiet curiosity, the squirrels still breathing heavily from all their running.  I slowly reached down for my camera and broke the spell.  They spun around and dashed back down the boardwalk like lightning.  I laughed out loud.  It was like watching Chip and Dale.  Seemed like we'd all shared the joke without talking.  How many other ways would the universe surprise me?

Well, with bunnies.  Adorable bunnies who were rather damp as they had probably been swimming or at least wading.  One watched me calmly as it munched on poison ivy.  I guess bunnies can eat it without harm. And then there were the sunbathing squirrels.  I mean, wouldn't you lay out on the boardwalk if your fur was wet from swimming?  I so hated to disturb them (I saw two!) so I walked very slowly to give them time to find a tree to hop to and skip leaping back into the water.

I breathed deeply and smiled.  And then I drove home with gratitude in my heart, looking forward to returning the very next day for more wild, precious, utterly free gifts.

Calling the animals part 1

The animals I called for my wordless walks two months ago were the deer, and it's funny - while I rarely used to see deer when I went to the swamp, now they come.  Almost every time.  I saw six or seven two days ago.  I still don't really believe it works, but it's a fun game and I enjoy making "oneness" connections with the animals, even if it could all be chalked up to coincidence. This time, I didn't call anyone in particular.  I sort of sent a "surprise me" sentiment out to the universe.  And almost immediately a great blue heron lifted off and flew gracefully through the trees.  I whooshed in a breath of wonder.  Then as I walked a little further, I heard what sounded like dragons.  I am not kidding.  Turns out that they were a passel of young wild pigs, some all black and some tan with black spots, like something out of a children's' story. They ran off too quickly for me to get a photo, but I heard and saw them twice, snuffling and grunting and snorting and splashing through the flooded forest.  What a cool surprise - I've never ever seen pigs at the swamp!

I waded through shin-deep water for over a mile, relishing my Amazon-like adventure, and noting that I'd need to choose a different trail for my wordless walk the next day. I wondered where the armadillos had gone - there was so much water and so little high ground.  I'm sure they know what to do and had taken refuge somewhere.

Eventually, I headed to a less remote, far more civilized, fully boardwalked trail, and even a small portion of it was under water!  I walked amidst myriad lizards and snakes.  I surprised two small alligators who splashed off the boardwalk- I don't know who scared who, it happened so fast!

On the way back, I thought - ok - I would love to see an owl.  I sent a request for an owl, wordlessly.  I don't even know quite what I did.  And then I dropped attachment and kept walking.  Sure enough, a few minutes later, there was my owl.  As I crept closer, she glided silently away through the cypresses further up the trail.  But when I quietly rounded the next bend, there she was, perched and watching me, then turning to gaze down into the water.  I did my best barred owl call and I can only describe the owl's expression as bemused - like, "Really?  You expect me to believe you are an owl??" But she didn't fly away.  The owl ignored me and stared down into the water, perhaps eying her next meal.

Whether the heron, pigs, deer and owl came for me or for themselves doesn't really matter -- I'm just so glad I had the gift of a moment to enjoy watching them. Give it a try next time you're outside.  Call the animals and see if they come.  You can read more about wordlessness and oneness and techniques to connect to the natural world in Martha Beck's book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World.  And watch for announcements- I'm going to start up a new Wild World virtual book club soon!

Also coming soon: More animal calling stories and shared wordless walks from some of you!  It's not too late to send me stories or pictures from your own wordless walk - I'd love to hear!  Email me at carla@livingwildandprecious.com .

Lastly, tomorrow (Monday) this blog is going to move to self-hosted so I have a little more ability to do some cool things with it.  My only worry is that I won't know how to do said cool things, so if anything seems a little wonky for the next while, you'll know why.  I'm hoping for a super-smooth transition, but I know I have some skills to learn too.  Wish me luck and I'll hopefully be checking in again very soon!


We've had a lot of rain in the past couple of days.  The swamp has more water in it than I've ever seen.  And it's absolutely magical. Reflections like this everywhere.  Critters galore. I have stories - so many! - I'll share them soon. This watery magic won't last, so if you're in the NOLA area, come walk with me tomorrow for a first-hand experience.    We'll meet at the Pecan Grove parking area at Jean Lafitte National Park at 9 a.m., Saturday, March 24.  And we'll walk wordlessly so all of our senses can soak in the present moment.  Some call this "forest bathing" and I love that term-- with all this water it's going to almost feel like bathing! Don't worry, I've found a trail that's 99% high and dry.

Email me at carla@livingwildandprecious.com if you need more directions or want to find out more.  And if you're somewhere far away from NOLA, consider taking your own wordless walk this weekend and sending me photos or stories about what happened.  I can't wait to hear what you experience!  Won't it be cool if we all take some time to still our minds and bask in the beauty of the present?