THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING SYNTHETIC ABOUT THE WILDERNESS. It is so fresh, so honest and seemingly random. Zero pretense. I like it. I like it a lot. I think that God is expressing His majesty, His creative, limitless presence through nature, and through His people that He loves when we allow Him to. I’m surrounded by His presence, the evidence expressed in the numerous species of living things, the vastness of the sky, the universe. Even in the great variety of color. I suspect green is His favorite since it renews, returns every spring. Through His inexhaustible imagination, through His power over all, for nothing is too difficult for Him. Nothing.
It’s my first time “caving” and I’m stoked. As I drive through the winding road to get down to the caves entrance, I see movement off to my left. The dark form is heading up onto the road and I slam on brakes. Bear! Frantically, I scramble for my camera and head out onto the road. The bear is thin, and its fur is mangy. It stopped its foraging as soon as I exited my car and is now heading back down the hillside. It cries out with what almost sounds like “Ma!” Now I can’t see it any longer, only the movement of the brush branches; so I try tracing the moving bushes but come up empty. Just as I’m heading back I see it scuttle down from the tree it had scrambled up on. Obviously I really scared it, and clearly from its size it’s a juvenile, probably the runt of the litter at that; I’m mildly surprised it’s still alive. Disappointed that I missed yet another photo op, I continue my drive down towards the cave.
THE SOUND OF THE MOVING WATERS, SOME SCANTILY, some pooled, some rushing with surprising power, sound utterly fantastic in this underground world. The sights from initial to final are breathtaking. The stalactites (above, holding on tight/”tite”) and the stalagmites (below, powering up with might/”mites”) are plentiful, so varied. As I continue forward, my eyes feast upon the variety of tites, mites, soda straws, flowstones, helictites, and pillars. The few strategically placed lights (solar-powered from above) really highlight and enhanced the colors and other-worldly formations of mineral deposits. It’s wonderfully cool in this massive cave and plenty dark as well. I find that I’m just a tad off-balance working my way through the darkness but the tour is quite impressive. Most of the pics I take are in the complete dark and it wasn’t until I uploaded them onto my computer that I was able to see and appreciate them. Seriously cool formations, what an excellent adventure.
AS I HEAD BACK, I’M MINDFUL OF THE SECTION WHERE I SPOTTED THE JUVENILE bear and sure enough, I see the tip of an ear! With my heart racing, I pull over and I am shocked to see mama bear! I am so completely stoked, I am giggling as I capture her doing what is completely natural for her, in her natural habitat.
I don’t see the juvenile, but I’m very excited to have mama all to myself.
I even stopped snapping pics just to watch her. She’s so casual, sitting back as if the twisted undergrowth is her personal lounge chair. She swipes lazily at a berry-laden branch and pulls the berries to her mouth. I can’t completely comprehend just how relaxed she is, for she sure can see me if I can see her.
She gnaws gently at her leg, obviously taking care of an annoying itch. I glance over my shoulder time to time, just to be sure another bear isn’t coming up from behind me.
Remembering that these bears come down to lower elevations during this time of year to climb up into the oak trees to feed on acorns, I also scan nearby tree tops.
All is well, bless God.
Figuring I don’t want to intrude any longer, (I could have stayed all day, the relaxed actions of this powerful animal is fascinating.) I trek back to my truck and head on up to the main road. All the while I am laughing, thanking and praising God for the fantastic treat, and to have been able to safely capture some of it on film … well,
I flat-out got a slice of heaven today!
Thank You, Lord, that You made up for my missing a pic of the juvenile that I encountered earlier for an even better photo op!
Next, I need a picture of my own of the ever-elusive mountain lion.
That would really put me over the edge!