Today, I had the extraordinary opportunity to sit outdoors by myself for thirty minutes. A rare chance to be alone unencumbered by work, worries, or even thoughts. As I sat at the edge of a deserted campground road gazing into a thicket of giant trees, along came a yellow and black millipede trying to negotiate its way along an expansive asphalt jungle. There and then, I decided to track the progress of this tiny creature for the entire half hour I had alloted to me.
Millipedes are the many-segmented and multi-legged animals that live in rotting logs. They feed on decaying plant matter and have evolved passive defenses against insects, their primary enemies. Their two survival techniques are to: roll into a ball like a porcupine, and if attacked, resort to chemical warfare, emitting cyanide from glands on each body segment.
While watching the millipede, Panther Creek was literally background music flowing in and out of my consciousness, adding to the pure magic and delight of this remarkable oasis. Earlier, I walked along wild water. The stream felt icy fresh, as cold as the snow fields that fed it.
I moved directly in front of the millipede and it headed straight for me. It crawled under my protective rubber boot, perhaps thinking it a piece of dead wood. Millipedes are shredders, chomping on the decayed and dying, turning everything into deep, rich soil. After carefully lifting my shoe and exposing the creature to the light, the millipede repositioned itself in my footprint, then set off again on its journey, now a mere twelve inches from the pavement’s end.
Twenty-five minutes on the macadam, the scooting little animal hadn’t made any progress at all, though I knew nothing of millipede ways. Too soon I heard human voices and the magic dissipiated, except that the crew members showed glee in seeing the millipede. I hope the animal found its way back to the forest. I wish to return to the forest as soon as possible as well, for I need another half hour off. Don’t we all? ~