Striking out on a trek just as the sun began to rise, my intentions were simple. My plans were to bushwhack into an area where I had spent little time. I had no exact destination, nor was I on a specific timeline. There was no need to get in a hurry or strike out in a specific direction. My goal was nothing more than spending much needed time in the solitude of the outdoors.
I did not go far before happening upon and striking out alongside a small creek cutting its way through a stand of towering hardwoods. I probably traveled a mile as the branch wound deeper into the forest.
Eventually deciding to take a breather, I perched on a large boulder near the water's edge. While gazing into the water, as it cascaded through a jagged substrate, I heard a noise.
Peering toward the sky, I watched as a grey squirrel bounded from limb to limb and scaled down the trunk of a tree to the ground. Unaware of my presence, the small rodent browsed on the leaf litter for its next potential meal.
It appeared to be in no great hurry, scratching the earth's surface for a morsel of food. Occasionally stopping long enough the scan the area for possible dangers, the squirrel continued pilfering and eventually disappeared into a nearby draw.
I scanned the treetops for movements, as yet another bushytail began barking. This rodent appeared far more happy to remain within the cover of the canopy, however, as it scaled and disappeared into a huge, partially hollow oak tree.
I remained still, scanning the environment around me. Well, it didn't take long to notice more activity as a box turtle slowly meandered across the forest floor. It, too, was unaware of my presence and continued its slow-paced journey.
I was not surprised upon seeing a centipede when I reached down and gently flipped a rock that was lying beside the huge boulder, and I was certain that a slew of other small critters lived beneath the bark of the decomposing log situated near the edge of the stream.
Easing toward the water, I watched as a small frog hopped from the bank into the small pool. And upon kneeling closer, I spooked a crawfish, sending it into a frenzy, bolting backward and finding shelter under a large flat rock.
I had noticed nothing unusual during my short rest stop. However, I did have a rather profound thought upon noticing a hawk soaring high in the sky. The bird of prey had a great perspective and could literally see for miles.
But the other critters I had been watching were far more limited than was the bird of prey. In fact, the world they lived in was rather small. Of course, the squirrels had the ability to travel and could easily follow the food source. But generally speaking, they hardly ever strayed farther than shouting distance from the tree they called home.
The frog that I happened upon would spend it's entire life along the edges of the stream. In fact, it might never travel more than a few feet from the pool.
I had no idea of a box turtle's range, but I was confident that a lengthy journey would prove time-consuming at his rate of travel.
The crawfish was pretty much confined to the stream and would only stray great distances, possibly with the help of heavy rains. But it would more than likely hunker down beneath a rock and wait out the raging waters.
There was a chance that a portion of the bugs residing beneath the bark would spend their lives within feet of the decaying tree. And even the huge boulder that I sat upon would prove a micro world for an array of tiny critters.
Yep, as humans, we have the luxury of traveling to and fro. But for some of the critters residing in the forest, they'll not stray far during their lives. On the other hand, they serve their purpose in a very intricate ecosystem, in spite of the fact that they live in a very small world.