A Close Encounter and 3 Little Reminders

“Watch your step, watch your step,” the voice said to me as I walked through the woods on an evening hike. And then I heard it. The rattling caught my attention first before seeing the rattlesnake’s head, inches from my ankle, posed to strike.

Though many would think this just happens in nature and would write off the experience, I can’t help but dig a little deeper with why almost stepping on a rattlesnake applies to my life in a bigger way.

This is a short post with three lessons learned in the one day of processing. Here goes!

1. The Voice

Some might call the voice I heard… something only a crazy person would hear; Some might call it an inner guide; some might call it a conscience (though typically that term is used for moral choices rather than something that occurs outside of your control); I call it the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit guides me daily—beyond my knowing how or why. Sometimes I hear Him clearly, other times not at all.

We are all guided by different voices.

Maybe we hear the lingering voices of our parents when they taught us right from wrong when we were children. The voices of our peers and friends with influence in our lives when we seek advice, stand out strong sometimes. Then there are the voices on ads with a constant drip of “buy this now.”

Voices are all around us, communicating, telling, sharing, influencing. And we need to be careful which voices we pay attention to and why.

I’m grateful for the quiet voice saying to me, “Watch your step,” as I hiked quickly through the woods. I would surely have stepped on the rattler’s tail. That and had I not heard the rattling tail itself. What are you listening for? Who are you listening to? Warnings of protection are there for us to learn and glean from if we’re willing to stop and listen.

2. Independence doesn’t mean I shouldn’t communicate plans

The second lesson of my encounter with the rattle snake is that I was 100% alone in the woods and had not communicated with anyone that I was hiking, nor where I was going. I’m used to the paths and trails around my community in the hills and mountains. The area is small and most people I bump into are healthy, kind hikers and bikers. I typically have SOME cell phone service; I never venture too far on my own, and genuinely feel comfortable and safe when I’m alone in the woods.

But no one knew I was there. And what if something HAD happened?

I take for granted my independent nature and safe surroundings. Until it’s not safe anymore.

I wonder if I had communicated other things through the years, would I have strayed so far down paths I didn’t belong? Would I have been more aware of danger with people and situations?

Maybe I’m the only one who just trusts that things will “turn out alright” as I act independently and go through my days… even if I am, I’m reminded once more to communicate with those around me better than I do. I can be independent with my time and plans, and still be safe with communicating said plans with those around me.

3. Don’t give into fear but, be wise and knowledgeable

This is HUGE. It applies to the rattlesnake and to me. The rattle was the snake’s warning. Thank GOD I heard and listened. But even after freaking out, (I’ll never forget seeing his head poised to strike just as I realized he was under my feet), I went back to the snake for a video and then continued on with my hike. I was jittery the rest of the hike, but didn’t just turn around and give up.

Yes, there are dangers in the world, unexpected ones that catch us by surprise even if we have the BEST communication and plans in place, but we are not to give up.

I’ve seen SO many people give into fear this last year and a half with covid. I’ve seen SO many people dismiss the dangers of covid like it’s nothing. Neither living in fear, nor acting unwise will get anyone very far in life.

We must continue on the path and journey set before us, as best as possible, despite the obstacles. And we must do so with wisdom and knowledge.

The rattlesnake reminded me I don’t know the best protocol with snakebites in the woods at all, let alone poisonous, perhaps deadly ones. So, I need to read up and be more prepared next time. I need to gain knowledge and insight into the woods that I think I know so well. BUT, I didn’t give up on my hike then, and I’m not going to just stop living my life because of potential dangers. I love hiking too much!

Wisdom, while moving forward with courage is where I choose live. And is the best reminder and takeaway with… that darned rattlesnake.

And honestly? I’m glad I bumped into it. I was able to warn others on the path to use caution. I was nervous for one woman with her dog because I wasn’t sure how the dog would react IF it encountered a snake beyond the point where I did.

Through my somewhat scary experience, I could alert and help others. Just like others have done for me in the past with other things in life.

I’m sure there are MANY other takeaways with the rattlesnake… but for now: Listening to the loving, guiding voices in our lives; Communicating with those around you/ not being so independent; and Not giving into fear while using wisdom and knowledge. These are my biggest takeaways to that VERY close encounter.

Have you ever had a close encounter with danger that taught you a lesson? What was it? What did you learn?

Dilapidated Mansion

Country living means you might stumble upon eerie but timeless places like this. This mansion is for sale not far from the home I recently moved from, though I just discovered it a few weeks ago. The mansion is tucked away behind foliage and pine trees older than the history of the people that might have lived here. It’s so creepy looking, straight out of a horror flick. Then again I have a pretty active imagination that took me places like a woman in a thread bare dress, awaiting her dead child, staring at me from one of the many windows.

Yikes and it’s not even Halloween yet!

I don’t do scary, so I didn’t spend a ton of time here. But oh man this place would be just perfect for some type of film!!


Falling Water

It’s easy to dream of going to far off places. Deserts, jungles, exotic animals, and languages I don’t understand all seem to call my name. But what about exploring close to home? This weekend a friend and I went to a beautifully painted canvas of waterfalls, bridges, and hiking called Ricketts Glen in Pennsylvania. And it was freaking amazing.

Here are a few photos of our day trip:



Where will you explore next?

A little somethin’ somethin’

The countryside has stuff to offer- despite the year and a half that it took me to realize it since moving home to PA from southern California! Good ole Happy Valley has been boasting its #PennsylvaniaPretty and here are some of my favorite photos this summer!





Some of these are on Insta! Follow me @jewels_durkin if you want more photos of #woods #fields #barns #cows #sunrise #sunset and #countryside livin’!

Twisted Paths…

…Sequel to Thirsty. (To get the full story first read “Thirsty.”)


As you shamefully stare at the ground in exhaustion and since you don’t have the capacity to look around you without crying, all your thoughts turn to your feet. You notice for the first time you are only wearing one shoe. “Where is my other shoe?” you think, snapping to attention. Have you been so numb on this Path that you are just now noticing your pathetic appearance? You slip off the single, ruined black pump you have made your journey in thus far and hold it close to your body as you frantically claw the dirt and peer in the bushes around you for your other beloved high heel. A classic Cinderella moment and you realize your life is a cliché. With tears stinging your eyes because you are just plain exhausted and can’t keep it together anymore, you lift your eyes from the ground and realize that you have been abandoned. You have no way of calling for anyone. No cell phone, no purse, and no id– You blame yourself; you were shameful, prideful, confused, insecure, and downright too drunk for anyone to care anymore. So they all left you. And you deserve it; you could have prevented it. And now in this empty space you realize for maybe the first time that you need help.

In the peripheral of your vision you notice one other on this Path of Lonely. She looks miserable too, trying to keep warm with a tattered woolen blanket and dirt stains on her once pink cheeks. You know that if you don’t approach her, you will never speak to each other. SO you can either walk past the figure huddled on the side of the path, or you can walk over in hopes of getting at least a conversation. And if you are really lucky, if you are vulnerable first, she might share her tattered blanket with you. Oh, to feel warm again! You just feel so, so cold; it is worth being vulnerable, you convince yourself.

You realize that the girl huddled in the tattered, torn woolen blanket on this Path of Lonely is crying. When you ask the girl what her name is, she doesn’t know. And you realize that you too have forgotten who you are. But in that, you have found a connection, and suddenly you don’t feel quite so lonely. You sit next to her gingerly, and ask in the quietest of voices, “how did you end up here?” Because when you try to think about how you yourself materialized to this spot, it is just too painful. You purposefully blocked out the spiral downward that led you to this desolate place where the air wreaks of heavy, grey heartbreak.

She says she had been on the same Path as you, don’t you remember her from The Path of Fun and Freedom? You shake your head in dismay as you tried to remember everyone who danced and laughed on that first Path together. The jokes that were tossed back and forth, the teasing, the feeling of “Untouchable” as the crowd made its way further down the Path, the forest starting to grow in, making it harder to see all the Friends. Then, the crew had to make its way single file, instead of walking as a crowd. You couldn’t remember this girl at all. She said she wore a white dress and crystal crown in her hair. You still couldn’t remember as you reached up for your own crown that must have fallen off somewhere in this Jungle of Confusion.

Her story continues that when the forest closed in around the group, the Path got harder to see. It became darker. The roots made people trip and fall. Many got left behind. She herself was left behind and when she finally heard voices again, she followed them to the Path of Fake. She was sad, hurt, and confused that they left her. But she covered it with a smile and choked the tears back. Everything was fine. Her leg had been bleeding from the tumble she took, but she tore her dress to make a bandage. She knew that even though it would scar, at least she was with the group again. They camped there for a few days and ended up becoming bored and frustrated with each other, so they tromped forward and found themselves further down Path of Fake. Some tried turning back, but it was too late. The Path swallowed everyone.

She tells you, it didn’t take her long to become so exhausted with this lifestyle. Of defending herself against the verbal abuse and names she had gotten used to hearing since she was a child. She was tired of hiding the anxiety of where this Path was leading them, and the downright achy feelings deep in her heart and mind that she no longer wanted to be with the group. Somewhere, from deep inside the black well of her heart, the still small voice echoed up that she was not designed for life like this. The girl declared with passion and energy she was done! Over it! Tired. Grieved. And scared.

It took a long time, but she distanced herself from everyone. She had tried it their way, the pretense of rapport in a society of ill people who were just plain lost. And the more she stuck around them, the more she fell, her lucent white dress and crown accumulating dirt to the point where she was unrecognizable. And this, the girl leans in with a whisper, is when she forgot who she was. Everyone was so malnourished and tired that only took care of themselves. There was no other energy to be spent on anything else. She started getting sick, unable to keep up with those in the group who still tried faking their fun with drugs, alcohol, musty cigarettes, and casual sex. She teeter-tottered on a balance of trying to find her own way when no one was looking, and still not wanting to end up like this, alone. How could she sever relationships, no matter how ugly, with people she had walked with for so long? Could she make it without them? She didn’t want to be alone. She tried relating to these people for so long. How could she just give it all up for something unknown?