Going without a phone?

June 8, 2023

It was a perfect morning to enjoy a trail walk to Barbara Lake, the only natural lake in Orange County. Soon after I headed out, I realized I’d left my phone in the car. Did I really need it? After a bit of mental back and forth about not having a camera or the step tracking app, I decided to keep going and appreciate an outing free of distractions to observe everything around me as well as underfoot which really paid off in the end.

First up were two delightfully different critters—a small blackish bug trying to carry the equivalent of what looked like half of a miniature acorn. I applauded its perseverance and made a mental note to remember that little guy in tough times. Next was a fun-to-watch, one-inch version of a moving bottle brush—picture a bristly-looking worm slowly plugging along. Feathered friends also showed up, in particular a taller, thinner version of an orange-throated house finch. At the lake there were the usual mallards and cormorants along with happy hummers hovering in the trees.

As I meandered south down the Lake Trail, a first-time surprise treat was waiting for me. Just past the three tree canopies and off to the right in one of what I call see-through trees, there has always been a huge empty nest. Doing a double take, I could hardly contain my excitement seeing what looked like two Copper’s Hawks standing guard. Such a thrill.

Next a purple flowered plant caught my attention because it looked similar to comfrey which is grown in Europe, Asia and parts of North America.  Also known as symphytum, it’s great for bone health among many of its herbal benefits. As I approached an offshoot of the lake, I heard what sounded like a mooing cow. Listening more intently, I recognized the sound of a deep baritone bullfrog and grinned knowing how funny they looked all puffed up.

When I was approaching the canyon road underpass, I quickly realized that I was about to step on a snake. Dodging it, I nearly landed on a much smaller one and if someone had had their phone handy, I’m sure they would have captured a hilarious TikTok video. I laughed at the thought and moved on.

What was my takeaway? Photos are indeed lovely treasures and I do cherish mine, however, there’s no question that I had captured pictures of another kind—the ones forever etched in my mind’s eye. Could that be another aspect of being a minimalist, the theme of last month’s column?

Published by Orange County Register, June 8, 2023

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