A Walk Through Nature

(Part 1 from 2)

“Are you sure you want to do this Gina?”

“Yes I do. I can’t believe that a successful corporate lawyer like you can be a naturalist, and I want to see first hand what you see in nature.”

James laughed back at her. “Corporate lawyers like me huh?”

As they pulled their gear out of the back of his Land Rover, James looked over at Gina. She was a few years younger than his 36, but he could tell that she took great care of herself, and looked years younger. James worked long hours, and had very little time left for a social life. Gina was a secretary with the firm he was in, and when he told her that he was a naturalist, she laughed and told him that she couldn’t believe it. James told her that he was going camping that weekend in the Snoqualmie National Forest for four days, and if she didn’t believe him, then she was welcome to join him. 

Now here they were getting the gear unloaded. James was dressed in a pair of camouflage pants, green t-shirt with hiking boots, and Gina wore a pair of khaki shorts that showed off her shapely legs, boots, and a tank top with a man’s button down shirt tied around her midriff. 

“Hey, where’s the tent?” Gina asked.

“Who said we needed a tent.”

“What about snakes and bugs?”

“What about them?” James said with a smile. “You wanted to see what I saw in nature, and there is no better way then to sleep under the stars. Besides, I don’t own a tent.”

Gina had a frown, but still wanted to go with him. She had been through a few relationships over the years, but nothing ever came out of them. Gina considered her work her life, so she stayed single. When James started working at the firm a few years back, he was nice with everyone, and she enjoyed watching him work. He was there when she arrived in the mornings, and was still there when she left. Gina knew that he spent very little time away from the firm, so when James invited her to come along, she jumped at the chance to get out herself. James told her to bring nothing but a few changes of clothes, and to wear something comfortable to hike with.

When James had separated the gear, he gave Gina a small backpack, helped her put it on, and then put a bigger heavier pack on his back. A short while after taking off, he found them both thick tree limbs that had fallen.

“What are these for?” Gina asked.

“We can use them as walking sticks, and they also can be used to fend off snakes and other creatures.”

When James mentioned snakes, Gina grabbed the bigger of the limbs and started looking around on the ground. Laughing at her antics, James continued on. 

They continued hiking for a few hours when Gina asked James if they could stop and rest for a few minutes. They had been walking along a stream, so James stopped, and took a drink from his canteen.

“I still don’t understand why you enjoy this so much.” Gina told him.

“Take a deep breath,” he told her.

Gina did, and then broke out in a smile.

“Mints,” she said.

“Field Mints,” James told her. “Look.”

He was pointing to a plant on the stream bank. It was about twelve inches tall, and had lavender flowers in dense clusters along the square stem at each leave base. The leaves themselves were lance-shaped and were in clusters of two.

“See that plant on the other side.”

Gina looked to see where he was pointing, and saw a plant that was almost identical to the Field Mint, but the lavender flower clusters were at the top of the stem.

“That’s a Peppermint plant.”

“I didn’t know mint plants grew here.”

“Yes. The Field Mint is the only native species. The Peppermint was brought over by the early colonists. It is believed to be a cross between the Spearmint and Water Mint. Their oils also repel several insects.”

“You do know your stuff don’t you?”

“Yes I do. You see those tracks in the stream bank?”

Gina looked and saw two indentations in the soft soil. Both exactly the same, right next to each other. The straight sides were next to each other, and the outer edge curved around in a half-moon shape. 

“Oh, what are those?”

“Deer tracks, more than likely from a Mule Deer.”

“You have proved you know this stuff, but why do you like it.”


Neither one said anything, and Gina turned her head as she listened. She heard the gentle waters of the stream flow by, the birds singing their songs, and the soft breeze as it blew through the Douglas-Firs and against her skin.

“All I hear are the birds and the water.”

“What else do you hear?”



Gina looked at James with a question look on her face.

“I like to come out here and listen to Mother Nature sing her song, and relax. Out here you don’t hear the hustle and bustle of every day life back in the city, no one yelling at you, no deadlines to meet. Just nature at it’s best. It helps me unwind and clear my mind. Do you ever wonder why I come into the office sometimes and it looks like nothing bothers me?”


“This is why.”

They put their canteens away and continued walking. 

Through meadows of Giant Red Paintbrush and Mountain Phlox they passed, Gina amazed at all the color they observed as they hiked. The red tips of the Paintbrush, the pale lilac to white flowers of the Phlox, to the blue or purple hooded flowers of the Blue Monkshood. They even stopped and observed a herd of Mule Deer. The males standing a good four feet at the shoulders with antlers spaced evenly apart, the does slightly smaller, and even a few small spotted fawns. James pointed to one male and told her that was the head of the herd. He was undoubtedly the biggest of all of them, weighing in at well over 200 pounds, the antlers themselves forked into 2 equal branches. James counted the points of the antlers and explained to Gina that it was a 12-point buck. A prize for any hunter.

“Are you a hunter James?”

“For food yes.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I don’t hunt for sport, and dislike it greatly. If you hunt as a last resort for food to feed your family, then I will understand. The so-called sport hunters will shot and kill all they can and it greatly disrupts the food chain. It also changes the course of mother nature.”

They watched the herd a little longer, and then continued on. 

When they stopped for the night, Gina watched as James cleared an area for a fire, gathered tree bark and twigs to get it going, and then started to gather bigger pieces of fallen branches. Gina was amazed when he took the larger pieces and constructed a crud lean-to big enough for both of them to sleep in. James also gathered pine needles and laid them on the ground inside. She guessed that this was going to be the mattress they were going to sleep on.

“Where did you learn all of this?” Gina asked. 

“I started doing this when I was in the scouts growing up, and when I was old enough to go off on my own, I would go camping for a week, or a weekend, and learn by doing it. I also have numerous books at home.”

Gina was so engrossed watching James, that when she heard the hoot-hoot of an owl she jumped and looked around. James walked up behind her and pointed half way up a tree. There in the fading sunlight stood a large owl watching them. It stood roughly two feet tall, the feathers a mottled brown and light brown in color.

“A Great Horned Owl.” James explained to her.

“How can you tell?”

“See the widely spaced ears sticking up? They are also called it’s horns, hence the name.”

“You are going to have to let me borrow some of your books when we get back. You know so much, and I know so little.”

James laughed at her and continued working.

Gina continued watching him. He cooked dinner over the hat size fire, and then they sat and talked until well after dark. When it was time for them to turn in, James pulled a few blankets out of their packs, laid one on the pine needles, handed her one, and covered himself up with another as he laid down. Gina lay next to him, and they were soon sound asleep.

Some time during the early morning hours, Gina woke with a start, and heard something that had to be large scrounging through the woods. The fire had died down to a few burning embers, so she couldn’t see what it may be. Moving closer to James for the security, Gina closed her eyes and was soon back asleep.

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