Walking through the woods at dusk

by Lillian Ireland

Walking through the woods at dusk,
The silence seems to pierce the ‘ifs’ and ‘whens’ and ‘whys’ and other endless thoughts.

A quiet overtakes my soul as I hear the nearby gurgling stream,
It doesn’t question its future or from where it gets its strength.

The cradling water and bottom sand gently hold the salmon eggs.
Soon the alevin will begin their travels along the winding course
to the salty brine where she’ll quietly bid them go…

My own questions have now faded, as I deeply breathe in the various scents of cedar, cottonwood and alder,

The underbrush zigzagging atop the mossy forest floor exudes its own earthy scent as I watch tiny birds skuttle about,
They’re trying to move me along, so as not to disturb their nesting site,
They quickly hop from limb to low limb with an audible intensity, as if saying,

Follow me, I’m the leader, please move away from here!

Their intended ploy understood;
Respecting their need, I’m quickly out of their sight along the well worn path. I hear other birds deep in the forest, some shrill, some familiar, some unknown.

Then stillness.

The only sounds are my shoes brushing along the rocky trail,
I try to lighten my steps so as to give the forest back her silence.

Then, as if to say stop trying and just be, an owl’s unique call grabs my attention,
The strength of its voice beckons me,
My eyes search the high branches,
Where are you?

I walk and wait, hoping to hear it again,
Once more the deep voice calls; I walk further and scan the branches…
Then our eyes lock.

You’re here, you’re with us, the owl seems to convey,
somehow saying, it’s OK,
Be reconciled, we are one, this refuge is for sharing…

We continue staring intently at each other,
With gentle thoughts, I ‘speak’ hoping it may understand my unheard words.

I remain still, then my eyes begin to moisten.
For me, this moment is rare, I give deep thanks…..
I don’t want to move, I want to stay bonded in this moment…… grounded…

Eventually, I fumble for my camera, hoping he won’t fly away,

I want to share this gift with others…

It seems to sense my need and waits,
I’m transfixed by his beauty and perfection…

Then as I lift my gaze beyond,
It lifts off, without a sound,
Its massive wings outstretched onward to welcome another passerby.

I’m left standing, in awe…

Various birds called out today for reasons beyond a guess,

Some wanted me to move beyond their newly spring built nests with a reminder how we too yearn to protect our young…

Others seemed to want to connect, to welcome and to feel akin,

I treasure these wonders in the woods and gratefully take them in….



  1. These beautifully crafted words capture so well an experience I repeat several times each week. Sometimes meeting an owl, sometimes a raven, sometimes a woodpecker, always with awe and peace. Thank you for sharing Lillian.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Josef. Forest ‘meetings’ require nothing more than open hearts, yet the knowledge learned can last a lifetime.
      Please consider sharing your forest meetings….

  2. Lillian, this is an exquisite piece, so evocative, varied, rich, beautiful. I teared up reading it, which I love. I too have had amazing owl experiences. One of my pleasures these unusual days is to hug our cedar and redwood giants for a while, leaning into their trunks, soaking up their peace. Love and blessings.

    1. If trees could speak back, what would they say? We are all so profoundly and deeply interconnected.
      Thank you, blessings and love.
      [Perhaps think of sharing your own owl experiences]

  3. Hi Lillian, this is beautiful! your photos are as compelling as your words. Such a glorious dance of light and shadow, earth and leaf.
    Thank you

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