Once in a while I feel the need to step away from the pressures of life, to escape the lists of things I have to do, to tune out the noise and busyness.
When that happens, I go here. Its a small knoll in a prairie/savannah about three miles from our house. It isn’t the garden spot of the world, but it’s pleasant enough. The noise of civilization is generally distant. And I’m almost always the only one around.
I lie back on the picnic table and look up at the sky through the leaves of an oak. Sometimes there are hawks or Sandhill Cranes or Great Blue Herons flying over. This spring I watched a Bald Eagle circling high above. One October afternoon, I sat for an hour and watched a parade of Monarch butterflies migrating south through a brisk cross wind.
Sometimes I close my eyes and just listen. I once identified the songs and calls of 18 species of birds in an hour.
One more than one occasion, I’ve fallen asleep for I have no idea how long.
I make it a point when I go here not to worry or think about anything in particular. No planning or writing. Just listening. I’ve probably made it there about six or eight times a year for the past 15 years or so. It’s one of the few things about Illinois I’ll miss.