Lunatic in the Woods

Yeah, that would be me. Standing alone on a trail with a HUGE smile on my face. If you happened to come upon me just then it would be understandable if you gave me a wide berth and glanced over your shoulder after you’d passed by. But let me explain….

For the past couple of hours I’d been enjoying a much-needed leisurely walk in one of Ohio’s beautiful nature preserves. It was the tail end of fall migration, and I didn’t expect to see too much bird activity. I had planned to do some thinking about my life as I contemplated some big decisions.

And I did get some serious thinking done, but only in between distracting flurries of bird activity. (So much for expectations.)


I saw dozens of White-throated Sparrows traveling through the undergrowth in small leaf-flipping gangs. Flitting around above them were flocks of tiny kinglets, both Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned. I watched a pair of Dark-eyed Juncos foraging in the grass, my first sighting of that species this season. And wait–what was that? A Brown Creeper!

Brown Creeper (Certhia americana)

Brown Creepers are tiny brown birds that climb the trunks of trees in a spiral pattern, eating insects and eggs they find in crevices of the bark. They’re beautiful and yet hard to find because they’re so well camouflaged against the tree bark. I’m very excited whenever I get to see one of them. And on this day I’d seen two of them already. (They’re hard to photograph because they move fast, but I was happy to get this photo of one a couple years ago.)

And then, just moments before you came upon me smiling in the woods by myself, I’d seen my third Brown Creeper of the day. When I realized I was standing there with that silly grin on my face I quickly tried to modify it into a not-crazy-just-friendly smile, and I waited for you to continue around the bend.

That red vine on the tree is another kind of creeper — Virginia Creeper.

Then, alone again, I tilted my face up to the sky, savoring the moment. With the warmth of the October sun on my face, I took a deep breath, feeling days worth of stress leaving my body. I felt lighter, almost as if I could walk on air. And as I write this more than a week later, I’m smiling again at the memories of that special day.

If that doesn’t illustrate the healing power of nature, I don’t know what does.


Note: If you’d like to read more about the Brown Creeper and listen to its calls, check out Audubon’s Bird Guide, here, or Cornell’s “All About Birds,” here.



  1. It sounds like you are in the company of a lot of lunatics! I am one also. Just this morning while visiting with my sister Jules on the phone, I gasped and exclaimed, “Oh MY GOSH” as a slight breeze caught the tree tops sending a heavy snow of leaves down in front of me. It was beautiful and magical. And that is nature… showing us her beautiful baubles and jewels. Jules exclaimed that she wished she had a dollar for every time I gasped in the middle of saying something while doing chores or driving the buggy to the pecan orchard. I see lovely and unusual things every day working outdoors or doing chores. Many folks rush by and never see the Brown Creeper’s that nature showcases right in front of us. Yes, we are lunatics – and we are the luckiest people in all of the land!


  2. Always wonderful to hear of your nature walks. You portray an image through your descriptive words as if we were walking along with you. We all feel the healing power of a walk in an autumn woods. Keep the faith Kim, and maybe we can share a walk soon.


  3. Don’t worry…there’s a lot of us lunatics out there!
    I’m always talking to birds, asking them to turn around and smiling and laughing when they do. I can only imagine what folks are thinking.


    • It’s a good thing you have such a great smile…you probably look crazy-but-harmless. So when you say you ask birds to turn around, I assume you mean that you want them to face AWAY from you, right? So you can get more bird butt shots for that silly blog of yours? 🙂


  4. I do this often when I walk Kim and if I saw you standing there smiling large I would get it. What a gorgeous bird. Yesterday I had three big Roo’s staring at me in the paddock, so close yet almost threatening. I smiled and told them they were magnificent, nature takes my breath away every day. I talk, sing and chat to the birds and animals all the time. It is healing and wonderful.


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