Back to Nature


How lucky am I? I get to see this sight pretty much every day. Granted, there have been marvelous things in every city I’ve lived in. You might ask, “What are a couple of deer compared to going past the Coliseum on your way to work every day?”

“Apples and oranges,” is my answer to that. I can’t compare it. Of course, there’s nothing like walking in the ancient Roman Forum or staring up in awe at the breadth of Brunelleschi’s dome in the Florence Duomo. Nature, however, inspires a different kind of wonder.

I find that marvels made by man stimulate my mind, the desire to learn, travel, study and see more – even to learn the language spoken by those who created them (yes, this is the main reason I set myself to learn Italian back in the day). Nature, on the other hand, fills me with a sense of wonder when it is majestic, and of peace when it is simple – like when I see this doe with her fawns or come across a turkey hen with her poults (Yes, I just looked that up. I don’t just know all these things off the top of my head). Then there are those nearly magical moments, when the sun has just risen and it illuminates an otherwise ordinary woodland scene, just so…

Why it's worth it to get up at sunrise sometimes

Why it’s worth it to get up at sunrise sometimes

Those of you who have been following my blog since its inception (and I thank you very much for sticking with me if you have) may have noticed a sea change over the past months – well, not counting the very long hiatus. For the first few months of its existence, Adventures of an Expat Returned consisted mainly of posts about my explorations of the woods around my new home in Virginia. That is because my bicycle was, for my first eleven months in America, my only means of transportation. Things are far enough apart here that I couldn’t really go anywhere new. Neighboring towns and pretty much anything beyond my local supermarket, chain bookstore and chain coffee shop were quite literally beyond my reach.

I was beginning to feel as though I’d exhausted my available subject matter when winter came. That pretty much put paid to bike rides through the woods in any case, no matter how good my intentions. I was reduced to taking pictures when family, friends or acquaintances organized day trips to somewhere new and I didn’t feel rude snapping tons of pictures. Then, in January, I took up a new hobby – running. This was something I never would have imagined myself doing, let alone liking… or loving. It took me awhile. From zero to my first real 5K run took me a good five months, but my initial doggedness has turned to a true passion for my new morning pastime. Best of all, it got me back out into my woods, even when the trails were too treacherous for a bicycle. By the time the summer rolled around, there was no way I was trading my sneakers in for my bike again. At the moment, I’m training for a half marathon – a fact I’m pretty proud of, if I do say so myself.

I see some pretty amazing things in the woods in the morning. Apart from the aforementioned wild turkeys and deer, there is a red fox I occasionally spy through the trees and all kinds of birds – hawks, an eagle, even a great blue heron. In the park where I go trail running, there are supposed to be coyotes. I haven’t seen any of those yet and, frankly, I wouldn’t mind if it stayed that way. However, there are also everyday scenes of trees, rocks and the stream that runs through them  that catch the eye and make me pause, sometimes literally, if only for a moment.


I think I stumbled across someone’s living room…

The problem is that, since I’m actually doing serious training, I can’t really stop and snap a picture the way I did when I was riding my bike for fun. Besides, then I had my backpack and could take my serious camera. Now I just have my phone’s camera. Let’s face it, the images just aren’t that great with those things, no matter how much we’d like them to be.

All this to explain why my blog has gradually shifted from nature to civilization, from trees to coffee shops. What’s important to remember is that this never was intended as a nature blog. It was a blog to document the adventures of an expat returned. Those adventures have slowly grown in scope, from the woods behind my house to nearby towns and cities and I hope, someday, even further afield. Stick with me. There are so many adventures still to come. I’ve got the next one planned. The one after? We’ll see. That’s part of the fun, isn’t it?

Thanks for dropping by and see you next time,


A rather blurry close-up of one of my neighborhood fawns, but still worth posting, I thought. They're growing up fast.

A rather blurry close-up of one of my neighborhood fawns, but still worth posting, I thought. They’re growing up fast.

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