Andrew Terrill

The outdoor diary of a writer, photographer, and wilderness wanderer

Seize the Moment

THE WATERFALL DIDN’T last long. A day and a half, then it was done. It was a quick flood formed by the rapid thawing of two-feet of snow. It spilled over the edge of the typically desert-dry mesa; a temporary rush of water that cascaded downward, scattering sunlight with diamond flashes as it fell, spreading into a fine spray and passing through the arc of a rainbow, filling the dry air with a lulling song of moisture-in-motion, transforming a hard-edged place into something softer and gentler… until it was gone.

north table waterfall and rainbow - 21 march 2024

north table waterfalls and rainbows - 21 march 2024

north table mountain - figure looking at waterfall - 21 march 2024

waterfall north table waterfall detail - 21 march 2024

And then, two days later, nature served up another fleeting gift: a chandelier ice forest in the same location; several inches of ice encapsulating every twig within a small area, every rock, every surface; born overnight from a fine mist that was all that was left of the fading waterfall, to exist for a mere hour before morning sunlight banished it as though it had never been…

 Ice splashed on plants and rocks

 Ice splashed on plants icicles detail

Ice on rocks north table mountain

Ice splashed on plants icicles detail - 26 March 2024

Days later: a raven perched for a few seconds on a crag’s edge, its knowing eyes glinting, surveying the spread of land below, its beard ruffled by a rising wind, its dark cloak gleaming with a satin-sheen in afternoon sunlight…

raven on north table mountain

raven close up on north table mountain

Followed in due course by huge wafting snowflakes, filling the blue-gray evening sky with a mesmerising mass of feathery down, a return of winter, the snow settling swiftly, silvering the mesa’s rugged slopes, only to thaw into oblivion the next day within a couple of hours of sunrise…

evening snow north table mountain

Followed not long after by a sudden return to spring warmth that tempted twelve terrestrial garter snakes upward from their sheltering nest, to twine together one upon the other, coil over coil but never knotted, with quivering ripples running the length of long bodies during their mating embrace, to do what instinct demanded, and to then disperse to far-flung crevasses, serpent orgy completed…

mating garter snakes

garter snakes

western terrestrial garter snake

garter snakes coils

garter snakes coils in rock

Followed two evening’s later by a cloudless sky filled with birds of prey: a bald eagle perhaps, although it was too high to tell, and several red-tailed hawks, along with fourteen turkey vultures that passed far overhead, drifting southwest, their broad-fingered wings spread wide, spiraling as though engaged in some carefully choreographed dance…

turkey vultures soaring above Golden

turkey vultures soaring above Golden

hawk above Golden

Followed on another day with the discovery that the mesa’s ball cacti had burst into bloom seemingly overnight, showing bright colour where snow had rested only a week earlier; while nearby, a tiny ladybird traversed a lichen-clad slab of basalt toward a bristling array of prickly pear needles, and a short distance further a western meadowlark trilled its cheerful spring song…

ball cactus flower

ball cactus flower amongst the rocks


prickly pear cactus on north table mountain above Golden

western meadowlark

western meadowlark

These are just a few of the fleeting moments in nature that I’ve witnessed in recent weeks. There have been so many – so many treasures, so many tiny details, and all could easily have been overlooked. To be honest, I have no doubt that I missed far, far, far more than I experienced. We all do…

I’ve been thinking about these transitory gifts over recent days; pondering the astonishing benefits I’ve felt them bring; the way grabbing a tight hold of them at the exact moment they occur – and how focusing on them the way a child might as though experiencing them for the first time – has prompted emotions so strong I find it hard to adequately articulate them.

Life’s beauty, I’ve found, lies in the details, even in the tiniest of them. It’s a beauty that grows when we take the time to notice it. It grows and grows until it fills us to the brim. It grows and grows until it roots us in the moment – a beneficial location to find oneself rooted within! And once there, living in the moment, noticing the moment, an upwelling of emotion – of pure joy – can occur. Possibly, it’s an emotion so intense you have to experience it to understand. But to try to put it simply: it’s an elevating feeling. Truly life affirming. Personally, it makes me want to sing at the top of my voice: “I’m alive! Alive! ALIVE!”

I say: forget carpe-diem, ‘seize the day’. That time frame is too long! Instead, carpe momentum, seize the moment. Live… in the moment! Not always, of course, but sometimes. Once a day, perhaps. Make it a habit, a focused and deliberate act. Step outside and make a point of noticing everything you can about a leaf, or a cloud, the texture of a rock, the sensuous feel of the earth itself beneath bare feet or massaged between fingers, the intoxicating perfume of some plant, or the perfection in a bird’s song. Go outside. Stop. Open up the senses to nature. Focus. Find a detail. Give yourself to it…

Lose yourself in that detail and you might be amazed at what you find.

We have immense potential for awareness, great potential to notice and connect with the world around us. And there is so much to notice and connect with. Well goodness – that’s an understatement! But how often do we move through our world without being aware?

north table waterfalls and rainbows

Scroll to Top