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!
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!)
St. Francis said it first, and best:
“Such love does the sky now pour, that whenever I stand in a field, I have to wring out the light when I get home.”
That’s what this blog is all about: the light-wringing I do when I get home from the fields with my camera full of recorded moments and my mind still saturated in Nature-Love… and not just for the obviously beautiful parts of nature, but the terrifying, the savage, the predatory, since without the “dark,” the “light” has no definition. All is part of the fullness, the sphere, the web of what we call The Universe, necessary and beneficial. I appreciate it all, and count it a privelege to witness and record it.
Like the poet Mary Oliver, I believe that “My work is loving the world.” In part of her poem “Messenger,” she reminds herself to:
“…keep my mind on what matters, which is my work, which is mostly standing still
and learning to be astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium. The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a heart and a mind
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.” *
If we spend much time in the fields, in the mountains, in the forests or by the seas, we soon comprehend the interconnectedness of all living things. We start to walk more softly… we start to accept, even appreciate, the polarity inherent in all beings, including those of the human kind. We cultivate more joy. Worry less. Re-learn how to play and pray. Nature has a way of softening us, out here in the “Light Fields.”
This blog, then, is my invitation to you. JOIN ME. Let’s explore nature together with the wide-eyed curiosity and open heart of a little child. Ready? Yes? Well then, as Rumi said,
“Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing or right-doing, there is a field…..I’ll meet you there.”
* Source: Poem “Messenger,” from the book Thirst by Pulitzer Prize-winner Mary Oliver, 2006 Beacon Press