I take it WILD, my “nature cocktail,” with a slice of Rugged and a pinch of Barely Accessible, straight up. Never could stay on a path, unless it’s one the deer have mashed out with their cloven-hoof comings and goings.
Oh, I still whine about the ticks, the thorns, the burrs speckling my khakis, but secretly – I like it.
Those lesions and adhesions symbolize, for me, an initiation rite… When I’m brave enough to bare my back to Nature’s slicing and sunburn, a “wall” seems to open, revealing a hidden world.
It’s as though I’ve been accepted into an exclusive community bustling with animals, birds, insects, all going about their business as though humans were merely a mild curiosity, nothing to mind.
Here are a few pics from some of my excursions into Nature’s Wonderland. I know your experiences are equally wonderful… please share them with me!
It was some serious rain.
6-8” between that 5 a.m. clap of thunder that jerked the neighborhood awake and the silent, swift-rising chimera of cloud that enveloped us eerily around midnight. Cars crashed. Streets flooded. Stretches of interstate were closed for hours. I swear, within the first four hours, brown yards greened.
The air smelled clean at first, then of fish and frogs and wet dogs. The hum of air conditioners in the cul-de-sac stilled. It was the promise of autumn, spilled out on the first day of September following a fly-swatting, high-tempered, drought-laden August experience.
WATER. Finally, and enough.
By next morning it seemed every living thing was in better humor. As e.e.cummings wrote, the world was “mud-licious and puddle-wonderful.” There was nothing better to be done than to head for Anne’s Lake and see how happy the ducks and dragonflies had become overnight…
The fog was thick and phantom-like, swirling around the ankles of willows and sucking up whole geese, magician-style. Mallards vacuumed the shoreline, gorging on insects the wind blew in. Damselflies participated in open-air orgies, as a red-tailed hawk eyed it all with detached superiority from atop a diseased oak. All of this activity, commotion arose from the weepy fits of a few angry clouds! Marvelous, the power of water!
THINK of it, what water can do!
We all know that the 277 river-miles of the Grand Canyon was carved by water. Solid rock! Carved from fluid but persistent water! At it’s deepest, the canyon is 6000 feet from canyon rim to river bottom, 10 miles across at its widest. A raft trip through it can take 2 weeks, a hike to the bottom and back 2-3 days.
Water (or lack thereof) has forced many plant and animal species to evolve a compensatory set of skills to survive. Take, for instance, the camel. Rather than the circular red blood cells that all other mammals have, it has oval cells that assists flow in a dehydrated condition. When camels exhale, water vapor is trapped by their nostrils and returned to their bodies. Their kidneys retain water so efficiently that a camel’s defecation is so dry it’s often used as fire-starter.
And how less wonderful would this world be without creatures who make water their home? Consider the sea turtles who start out biting and clawing their way through their shells, dig furiously through a foot of sand to reach the surface, navigate to the sea by moonlight and swim continuously for days to reach deeper, safer waters, fueled solely by their own egg yolk residuals!
Think of the role the ocean plays in the phenomenon of the advancing carpet of red crabs on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. Each fall the red crabs, 120 million strong, migrate across highways, schoolyards, parking lots and a golf course to the sea to spawn. This blanket of red bodies is so dense that it can be seen from airplanes. Locals shovel them from their sidewalks and adjust their daily lives to accommodate them. Take, for instance, the die-hard golfers on the island’s single course who have adopted the rule that the crabs “belong to the game…” meaning if a crab manages to push a golf ball into a hole, it counts as IN.
Masaru Emoto is a Japanese author known for his work called “Messages From Water,” in which he claims — and aims to show through microscopic photography — that human thoughts directed at water droplets before freezing affect the water crystals in the frozen state. His research strives to show that positive thoughts (whether through prayer, words of intent or music) produce “beautiful” crystals, whereas negative ones produce “ugly,” misshapen ones. The inference is that water has a secret life of its own and that it can absorb and transmit human emotions. He conjectures that this can be utilized for its curative properties in ways never before imagined. Emoto does, of course, have his critics in the scientific world, and it doesn’t aid his credibility that he sells products based on his “findings.” So far, however, his experiments (to my knowledge) haven’t been DISproven. If you watched the wildly popular and highly controversial video “The Secret,” you saw similar experiments and outcomes.
If, indeed, his experiments (and many similar ones conducted by scientists since) are conclusive and support his hypothesis, the ensuing question begs an answer: does water hold the key to many scientific and spiritual mysteries? Is it a bigger piece in the God-puzzle than we ever imagined?
Of course, “everything old is new again,” and if you were to describe these “new” findings to an Native American elder, you’d likely receive a slow, knowing smile. Maybe we’ll discuss these issues again later. For now, I’m just content to sit and gaze on the dozens of little rivulets parting over stones and twigs in the stream, lose myself in the way it catches the light, throws itself over rocks in a suicidal manner, then recovers at the bottom to flow, seemingly uninterrupted and completely at peace, onward.
In the words of Rumi, “the wonder of water moving over that rock justifies existence.”
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!)