Even though I sometimes lie motionless in a meadow long enough for the creatures of the meadow to forget I am there, my two most memorable moments in meadows were times when I was very much noticed. Both events were alongside my first wife Lisa. The first was on our honeymoon in eastern Maryland, the second was in Yosemite on our last backcountry trip together before we divorced. There probably is a lesson in there somewhere, but I’m not seeing it. 

In Maryland we were cloud watching one afternoon when a turkey vulture soaring high overhead noticed us and started circling our location. We quietly debated how close we should allow it to get before we let it know that we were not carrion. It was a big bird, and we chickened out well before we had to. The vulture barely reacted to our intentional movements and calmly moved out of its spiral.

Years later in the Yosemite backcountry directly below Cathedral Peak, we finished dinner before nightfall and spread out our Ensolite pads and sleeping bags to watch the stars come out. The high mountain air turned brisk as soon as the sun disappeared behind the ridge, so we slipped under our bags and only our heads were sticking out. Suddenly, without warning, a great horned owl with extended talons appeared a few feet in front of our faces. Instinctively I closed my eyes, shot up my arms, and tossed my sleeping bag. Afterwards I found out that Lisa’s reaction had been exactly the same. I doubt my eyes were closed for even a second, but by the time I opened them again, the owl was gone.  

I always want to blend in with nature when I trek into the wilderness. Have I achieved that goal if I become a potential meal? 

Steven Simpson