By Charles Towne
Time passes, some memories never do.
The last two lines of Robert Service's epic poem, 'The Call of the Wild' have inspired me for many years, and I would ask you to let it touch your soul now:
"There's a whisper on the night-wind, there's a star agleam to guide us,
And the wild is calling, calling… Let us go."
Interspersed throughout the poem a summons repeats itself, three times.
"Then listen to the wild - it's calling you."
"Then hearken to the wild - it wants you."
"But can't you hear the wild? It's calling you."
From my earliest days as a little, red-headed, barefooted boy tromping the Fox River in Illinois, I have been answering that sublime call. I love nature, every aspect of the wild places.
Have you ever sat and watched the sun burn through the early morning fog, or listened to the flutelike call of a wood thrush echo through the woodland? Perhaps you have been so fortunate as to have heard a loon yodeling on a northern lake? Have you spooked a doe with her fawn and watched them bound away, or seen a bear vanish into thick undergrowth without a sound?
It was June in central Michigan, and I had hiked through a profusion of scarlet Indian paintbrush back into the state land to one of my favorite spots.
Down at the edge of the swamp, the jack-in-the-pulpits stood with their feet in the water in anticipation of my arrival, while not far away a cluster of pale white Indian pipes bid me welcome.
For some reason swamps intrigue me. Yes, those mysterious wet places - whether they be Northern cedar swamps or Southern cypress swamps - beckon to me, grip me, hold me enthralled; they always have.
I had been sitting on the edge of the beaver pond for some time, just watching, listening, waiting. If you were to ask me what I was waiting for, I couldn’t give you an answer. But what I do know is this: if one is patient and waits long enough, something will usually happen.
A raccoon, out for a morning stroll from here to there, came waddling along the lake's edge and passed within five or six feet of me. There was no indication that it was in any way aware of my presence. I like that.
Suddenly the woodland silence was broken.
Somewhere to my left and in front of me, out there on the pond, something was crooning!
For the life of me, as I sat there listening, I couldn't fathom the origin of that soulful song.
A moan, then silence…
I sat fascinated, wondering, staring out through the thick undergrowth that grew along the edge of the pond.
What had made the sound?
I sat hoping that, whatever it was, would bless me with more of its wild song... and I didn't have long to wait.
A long, low moan, almost quivering in its expression.
For the next few minutes there would be a short time span of silence, perhaps lasting ten or fifteen seconds, and then another low moan. Fascinated, I waited and was now even more intently watching and listening, for whatever was calling out there was very obviously swimming in my direction.
Ripples disturbed the pond's surface, and I continued hearing those mysterious low, moaning cries.
I was surprised when an adult beaver swam along the shore line to pass in front of me, perhaps fifteen feet away. As it swam, it moaned as it continued down the shoreline and out of sight, and also out of sound.
I had never heard a beaver sing before, and I have never heard the beaver's song since.
Could it be that all of God’s creatures sing His praises? I wonder.
O Holy One, I praise you. From the depths of my soul, I exalt your Holy name. How must you delight in praise of your creatures? How can I, as a human, praise you enough? You are beautiful in your power, fair in your justice, wonderful in your glory, awesome in your forgiveness, and ultimately good. Please Lord, hold me in your arms, comfort me and draw me closer to you. Thank you oh Holy One, thank you. In Jesus’ Holy and blessed name I pray this, Amen
Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.
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