Under the Open Sky: Moments of Magic Shared in the Outdoors

By Kimberly Mason / For The Chronicle

Saturday morning I woke before the dawn, hoping to see the total lunar eclipse before the moon slipped away from view behind the hills in the west. It was the morning of my 50th birthday, I had hoped to start the day with a little bit of magic.

As I stepped out onto my back porch, I heard the “crunch, crunch, crunch” sounds of something moving through the frozen leaves scattered beneath the walnut tree just outside my door. Whatever was out there sounded BIG.

So I snuck back into the house, grabbed my flashlight and crept back out to the porch.

Standing at the open window, I shined the light in the general direction of the tree.

When the beam of light hit its target, the target and I both jumped back a good ten feet, in opposite directions, startled into momentary flight. Then frozen again, we stood still and stared at each other.

I was looking at a herd of 57 elk and they were looking back at me.

What a gift. Happy birthday to me, I thought.

But nature wasn’t through with me yet, there were two more gifts that morning.

With camera in hand, I went into my backyard, heading northwest, hoping to keep the elk herd from bolting. The moon was just ahead, hanging low in the western sky.

As I reached the crabapple tree and set my camera in the crook of the tree to steady it, the herd moved with me in the opposite field.

I turned to see that behind me the sun was starting to rise in the east, casting an orange glow over Mount St. Helens.

Captured by the beauty of nature and that moment, tears threatened to take away my view.

The sunrise behind me, a lunar eclipse before me and an elk herd to share it with.

Happy birthday to me, I thought to myself, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Thank you, God, for the gift.

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Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer and Outdoors enthusiast who lives in Cinebar.  Visit her photography blog, The (Almost) Daily Bird (blogs.chronline.com/dailybird), follow her on Twitter (ChronKim) or on facebook (Kimberly Mason — The Chronicle). Contact her at kz@tds.net, text or call 269-5017.