This past Saturday, I arrived at the Baytown Nature Center right at 7am just minutes before the sun peeked over the horizon and after chatting with the bubbly attendant, drove my Jeep down to the raised pavilion in back. It is one of the few places you can go here on the flat Texas Gulf Coast and get a wonderful panoramic view. I was excited and anxious to see another heavenly sunrise and this one promised to be a beauty.
The invigorating effect of the clean air and cool temperature washing over me was multiplied by a 20 mile per hour north wind and I was glad I had my Nomex hoodie with me. I came to teach a geocaching 101 class along with two friends Larry Houston and Julie Denton, but Larry was laid up in San Jacinto Methodist awaiting a treatment for a sudden ailment.
As I pulled up on the west side of the pavilion, I took this breath-taking beautiful photo to share and although modern digital cameras are a marvel, they are no match for what all of us see with the naked eye, or what I facetiously like to say, as the naked observer. I am the kind of person that likes to be early to everything. I am also the kind of person who likes to be first. On this day, I was both and unloading my teaching paraphernalia, I carried it up to the top of this amazing wheel-chair accessible teaching location.
On my way there, I stopped at the Donut Wheel on Garth Road and bought donuts – 18 to be exact, as others were sure to bring much more and did. While there, the Vietnamese fellow who runs the place and I had an amicable chat about obesity, diabetes, and cholesterol, of all things and being a man who has lived in South East Asia, I like to pick the brains of Asians every chance I get. He told me his homeland is suffering from the same health problems concerning diet as we Texans, in that air-conditioning and modern conveniences are replacing hard work, so diseases like diabetes are becoming common.
We settled on a dozen mixed and 6 cake donuts, as everyone knows the cake donuts are the only safe choice. I ate two after arriving along with a hot coal-black cuppa Joe.
Setting up my props in the pavilion, I stopped to watch the sun fully appear over the heavily industrialized horizon and being a denizen of the concrete and steel jungle for close to 40 years, I found it exceedingly beautiful. I’ve learned to see it that way, as years ago I made up my mind to enjoy my life regardless of where I was. When a person averages 15 to 16 months of work in a year’s time for most of their adult life, they better learn how to do this, or they will spend 90% of their waking hours wishing they were somewhere else.
Ruminate on that last statement.
I want to live in the moment and yes, I know this cliché is over-used. However, it is a lesson most of us haven’t learned and that is the crux of this column. Have you ever stood alone and looked at something and wished there were someone there to witness or share the wonder you are observing? Whether you realize it or not, you are living in the moment.
Last week before the heavy rain came, I was at work and I stepped out of the back of the control room and there in the clouds was a very faint rainbow. It was in an odd place and not where I would expect to see such a phenomenon. I enjoyed it for all of a minute and it faded. Questioning folks throughout the day, evidentially no one saw it but me.
One by one students and seasoned geocachers began to arrive at the pavilion and before long there was a very large group of us eating donuts, laughing, sharing stories about challenging geocaches, and sharing trackable items. Geocachers have these items called pathtags, Geocoins, and travelbugs and they have trackable numbers on them, so when one of these items moves from one “cache” to another, the miles are calculated. At this class there were 4 geocachers with trackable numbers tattooed on their bodies. Incredible. They are human trackable items and I photographed their tats so I could log the numbers when I got home. We were in the moment. I knew it, but I wonder how many of us knew?
After the class, which lasted 2 fun hours, we loaded up everything and moved down to the Nurture Nature Festival and set up our booth under a tent. I was joined by two other geocachers whose monikers are Juleed and Greeneyed and we sat, ate, and passed out donuts, stamped passports, and offered geocaching tips and information to the many people who visited out station. The wind was something else, but you know? We had a great time. We were in the moment.