“You don’t scare me, Human. Only a little, but I’m young and lithe, all muscle and sinew and curiosity. Yes, my pink mouth does occasionally grope for my mother’s milk, but see how aptly I crunch away at summer flowers gone to seed!
“Don’t let these fading spots mislead you, Human. I’m not naive. I’ve listened to the gathering herd’s rumblings, the rumors of Warm leaving for a long while, but always returning…how blackberries and ripe persimmons disappear, leaving the stomach empty and the landscape void of its sheltering green walls. But I’m not afraid.
“One day soon, I’ll command my clumsy, lanky legs. They’ll have become strong and sure, easily leaping a 6 foot fence from a standing position, 10 if I get a running start. My large, veined ears will turn 180 degrees and tremble at the howl of the coyote, and my nose will sniff out an acorn buried beneath inches of snow. I have superior instincts. Already I can distinguish Safety from all that it’s not. Did you know my antlers can grow more than 1/2 inch per day?
“By this time next year, I may have come nose to nose with the smoking arms of metal that smell of sulphur. I may have seen death by then, have smelled the bones of one of my own. I’m told how the honied light on the lake dims and grays, how the water becomes crunchy and harder to swallow, but I’m prepared.
See here? I practice my snorts and stomps, learn to interpret shadow and rustles. Even now, my cloven hooves can trot across fallen twigs without causing a single snap.
“I can tell you fear for me, Strange Empathic Being, but you needn’t worry. I’m in training now, and there’s no going back. If you visit me again when Winter’s white palm has turned over to reveal the brown knuckles of Spring, you’ll find me wiser and more skilled, having practiced Living in the dark.
“I trust the Good Mother’s promise to return the light, the warmth, the abundance when I most need it. Do you?
“There comes a renewal, Human, a restoring, A Giving Back and then some of all we thought was taken. It happens whether or not you think you deserve it, and whether you believe it or not, though believing makes the waiting easier.
“If you Humans can entrust me, and those like me, to the care of the Season-Changer, can you not entrust your children, your lover, your friends…
She looks like a seraphic white dove from a distance. Up close and in profile, like a fuzzy, green-eyed, hump-backed teddy bear. Head-on, like a cross-eyed, comical what-is-it. She’s always laughing, or so it appears. She’s my new favorite friend of the fluttery kind, and I almost missed her.
In fact, I almost missed it all. I’ll show her to you in a little bit, but first let me explain…
It was a gazillion degrees outside.
I had gravel in my flip-flops.
I was totally ticked off because it just wasn’t “happening for me,” photography-wise. I’d spotted a kingfisher perched politely on a bare branch on the opposite shore of the narrow lake, but by the time I got to that side, the kingfisher had gone fishing – elsewhere. Just then a dainty green heron lowered her wings and hooked a tree with her talons on the side of the lake I’d just come from. It seemed a wry taunt. I was not amused.
So here I was, in foul humor, limping hurriedly along to the next site I deemed having potential for that “one good shot,” frustrated and full of myself, when a voice in my head (yeah, I hear those) clearly chided,
“You just missed one thousand things.”
I wasn’t in the mood for reprimands even from myself, so picked up my pace just for spite, but the voice was insistent. Crap. I KNOW that voice. It’s often right. Grudgingly, I set my camera bag down, fished out my macro lens to replace the telephoto I’d been sporting apparently, and solely, for the arm-workout the weight of it ensures.
I slowed down. Then stopped. I closed my eyes and listened.
And then, sure enough…… ONE THOUSAND THINGS.
Okay, more like dozens, since I’d likely already passed at least 900 of them in my haste. DOZENS went whirring or rustling or slithering or fluttering or gliding or ambling by and around me. Humble things, modest in size, but packed to the gills, the pinions, fur and scales with interest and beauty.
I had wanted to be the big shot photo-huntress, come back to camp with shots of raptors and snakes, white-tailed deer and shore birds, strutting in like a Navajo hunter with a trophy elk hide slung over his shoulder.
Instead (and I thank God for this), I sat down in a field of native prairie grasses taller than I, and listened to the stories the goldfinches, the red-winged blackbirds, the passionflowers and dragonflies were telling. I counted big-eyed skippers and lost track at 162, I laid on my back in the near-blooming goldenrod and listened to Earth’s breath, felt Her pulse.
After the voice and before another hour had passed, I had honestly seen hundreds of things I’d missed….some external, some within. So the question I’m scattering out here as seed is….what are YOUR “one thousand things?”
Are they the myriad expressions that pass across your child or grandchild’s face as a new revelation softly assaults their eager minds? Are they the subtle, unspoken ways your lover or spouse communicates to you your hallowed place in his/her life? Are you missing them while still looking for the “BIG birds?” Are they the ways the ocean waves curl and foam at your feet, inviting you to recognize your body’s kinship to the elements, being largely comprised, itself, of water? The personal satisfaction and self-confidence your work brings to you?
Will you slow down, pay attention, be informed, maybe even TRANSformed?
Here is the dove/bear/what-is-it I promised to tell you about earlier. Isn’t she delightful? She’s a flower moth of some sort (Schinia), though I haven’t been able to determine if she’s a unimacula, a luxa or a buta.
Doesn’t matter ….she’s just one of a thousand things I almost missed.
(Click on any photo to enlarge. Do you see what’s hiding in the next to last photo? She’s the Queen of Camo!)