Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to look at it more closely. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Echo's Through the Hills


This week my brother Ken passed away rather unexpectedly. I've still not come to grips with the situation and struggle at times to place context within the moment. I keep remembering the many hours of fishing we did together, not nearly as many as there should have been though, even so those memories reverberate like echos through the hills of time. It has caused me to reflect even more deeply about those fleeting shout-out moments of my own life that generated meaningful echos that follow me across time. In the near future after I have had time to shake off the impact of this week, I will write another Part 2 to this story about his echos of life. For now, I'd like to share a few of the more memorable ones that I've experienced with my own family.
 
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I can still hear the echoes that return through the hills, echoes that speak of those days when I could hardly wait to return to the outdoors. Sometimes I hear them when reminded by a sound, or an aroma, or something I see. They still float across the hills of my imagination having been launched by adventure episodes so enduring their memories still resonate like the perpetual flow of a timeless waterfall.
Echoes like the warning chatter of a gray squirrel shouted from atop the tall hickory tree when I took my two young boys on their first squirrel hunt. I hear it now, echoing back from the past haunting me as to why I did not take them more often. It was a simple memory made during a simpler time, one I relish more than they can ever know, more than I ever knew…until the echo returned one day. The rattle of the BB’s in my youngest son’s Red Ryder…not quite old enough to handle a real gun. The reflected light dancing off the oiled barrel of the old single shot 22 caliber rifle my older son so carefully cradled across his chest as we hiked across the dew moistened field, it is as fresh today as on that morning. I hear the faint rebound of the moment as it calls back to me.
I hear the anguished cries of my younger son when he discovered that I and his brother had left him behind for a camping trip. He didn’t understand…I didn’t understand how important it was for him to go with us…and this echo still breaks my heart today when I allow it to resound through the hills of my most difficult memories. We tried to make it up to him after we returned and to his credit, his loving heart responded with joy and excitement and all was forgiven – by him – but I have yet to forgive myself for leaving him that day. It’s an echo whose resonance has never faded and I still fight to keep that heavy lump from my chest when it pays a return visit.

 
The Oklahoma wind carries many a visual echo across the prairie, echoes that travel great time distances and never grow faint. I stand on a high knoll surrounded by nothing but a sea of grass that rolls to the horizon and beyond…the largest remnant of Tallgrass Prairie that remains. The wind whispers its greeting, ‘Come, join me and rest as I speak of times past…’ and I do, and I find a God measured peace and rest.
Echoes are often best heard during the silence…I rest upon the ancient prairie ground and allow the wind to transport away the scars of having not allowed myself more time to experience such moments. And only after the sun creates another legendary end of the day, do I reluctantly leave that refuge. These are the silent echoes that are locked into the desires of men, silent echoes that define who we are.
 




The Pacific Ocean rolls ever onward and crashes against the Oregon beach. I feel the buffeting wind against my face and inhale the fresh aroma of the sea as I stand alone amongst the miles of tangled driftwood. An overcast sky is suspended low and I raise the collar of my field jacket to block the chill. At home I feel here, in a strange way, far from the prairies of the native land of my birth, I understood that as foreign as this place was for my senses, I knew I belong there…then. I am a part of this echo, one as vivid as the beams of light that arched across the sand dunes from the lighthouse high on the ridge. It is an ancient place with a rich history, a place that echoes its story forward to another time.
Echoes through the hills are made only from living forward, yet there will come a time when those harbingers from the past catch up to us, to reveal new meaningful purpose to why those  adventures were important. By living forward each day, new meaningful echoes will follow you into your future. 

Keith

1 comment:

Maryellen said...

So true, Keith, and I'm so sorry for the loss of your brother but thankful for the memories you shared.