I’m not sure why, but, although I still spend time in the garden each day, I find myself wanting to be in the woods every morning. Last week I finally carried a garden chair up to the cedar bluff and sit in the early morning sunshine drinking my tea each day, just hearing the awakening birds making quiet morning songs and noticing tiny things around me. Like the way the just risen sun lights up the sturdy little seed cups of Shooting Stars that colored this swath of cedar-strewn meadow with their cheerful magenta flowers in March.
I don’t know why – but the very air seems different this summer. It has a clarity and sparkle to it that seemed only occasional in the past. Small scenes at every bend in the trail radiate a beauty I don’t remember noticing before. I have this profoundly peaceful and loving connection to this land that is hard to describe. I don’t mean simply the earth but the trees and wildflowers, the fungus and moss and the ants that build their tidy homes in the pathway. The possums that I only see as corpses returning to the soil and the deer who I often meet as they are settling in for the night or just waking up in the early dawn – or wandering through the back garden looking for a meal. I feel we share a bond in our connection to this small patch of woodland.
There is something magical about the sound a breeze makes in the treetops. It occurred to me yesterday watching the treetops dancing in the afternoon breeze that the wind is their friend – that it gives them the opportunity to move and stretch and dance. Their movement seemed truly joyful – a fat fluffy alder doing a flamboyant cha-cha-cha next to the much more sedate and elegant dance of the firs and pines around her. And now I see that the wind gives voice to their song as well.
We humans are just beginning – once again – to realize the loving collaboration that Nature is. In the last few hundred years we have come to see our relationship with nature as a battle, a war, a competition – and interpret things we see in Nature in that way as well. Instead of realizing that it is a gloriously choreographed dance we are all doing together. We forget that we are made of earth and sun and water and the tiny micro-organisms that inhabit us all and make life possible for all living things on the planet.
How did we manage to forget that we are simply another small organism on a small blue planet in a vast unending Universe? How did we come up with the idea that we are in some way superior beings to all the beings that have inhabited this planet successfully for millions of years – without our presence? And will go on for millions more when we have gone.
How can we not spend our days in awe of the wonder of it all and how it breathes and functions in all its variations without our help or guidance – and in spite of our ignorant destruction and interference?
I read a beautiful line this morning from poet Mary Oliver “…I think this is true, the world did not have to be beautiful to work. But it is. What does that mean?” We humans are often in awe of its beauty. The awe-inspiring beauty of the tiniest flower or moss or insect, a sunset or magnificent mountain range or redwood tree. In every environment in every part of the planet – beauty is an inherent part of the complex systems of nature.
What does it mean?