Kindling Neighborly Connections between People and Nature.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Living treasures in hidden places

Erin and I hiked another segment of the West Rim Trail this afternoon, starting at Little Slate Run and ending at Siemons Trail. To me it was not one of the most impressive hikes as far as vistas go but I enjoyed turning over a few rocks at some wet spots and stream crossings along the way. There are living treasures to be found by turning over rocks in the woods!

Of course, I am faithful to place rocks back just as I found them. Here are a few of the living treasures I found today by turning over rocks:

Northern two-lined salamander: a salamander that can be found hanging out under rocks of springs that flow down the ravines of the Pine Creek Gorge.

Apheloria virginiensis: These black and yellow millipedes inhabit the leaf litter of moist forests and can be found curled up under rocks and logs. They emit as defensive chemicals a combination of benzaldehyde and hydrogen cyanide and when one is picked up it becomes one of the best smelling things in the forest, like maraschino cherries! Don’t eat it though!

The forest is a great place to turn over rocks, because if we have eyes to notice there are living treasures under most of them. The forest is also a great place to turn over rocks in a spiritual sense, acknowledging that there are places within us that we keep hidden from the world and even from ourselves. The forest is perhaps the best place to discover who we truly are; as we turn over literal rocks to become acquainted with our wild neighbors and also to turn over the rocks that cover our fears, our failures, and our biggest dreams; by the grace of God who calls us into community the forest is one of those places where many find the freedom to discover our authentic selves.

If we find that God has given us the courage to turn over some rocks, the truth of the hidden treasures that reside within us will set us free to be our authentic selves, to live life unafraid, and to love boldly in our own unique way.

(As a side note, everything tastes better in the forest! this orange we shared creek-side)

(today's hiking route)

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