Thursday, October 6, 2011


Ralph Naess, making like an elk
in the Cedar River Watershed
Remarkable things happen to those who spend time outdoors. One March, my friends Ralph and Celese were driving through Washington's Cedar River Watershed, where they work, on their way to meet with a school group. Ralph braked the car when they spotted an elk with magnificent antlers crossing the road ahead of them. It was the time of year when elk shed their antlers, so Ralph hollered through the windshield, "Hey! Shake your head!"

The obliging elk bucked, then shook his head. His antlers fell off, one after the other, and landed in the middle of the road. Apparently startled by the sound of them hitting the pavement, and perhaps by he sudden loss of their weight, the bull raced off into the woods.

Ralph and Celese took just a moment to look at each other, wide-eyed, before scrambling out of the car to collect the antlers. They found that the base of each was somewhat moist and spongy and tinged with spots of blood. Still standing in the middle of the road, Ralph and Celese held the huge antlers and called their thanks into the forest.

In the wilds, we receive many gifts. Most of them are intangible, like joy and serenity. But every so often, a gift received is as solid as an elk's antler that you can hold in your hand.


  1. Remarkable things happen to those who spend time outdoors. Yes! That's precisely why I sit outside paying attention for an hour a day.  They rarely happen in the first five minutes, though---except for the  occasional gift of antler rack.

  2. Life is such a surprise at times.  Those days when fate or co-incidence converge to bring us gifts, like elk antlers!

  3. Great story! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Obviously Ralph is an elk whisperer.