What the woods looked like last Tuesday
Tuesday. Blessings of the flock.
You’re walking up the road. The air feels still. Silence reigns between tall trees with lingering yellow leaves. Fallen leaves smell crisp with childhood memories of burning raked piles. In the distance, a logging truck whines. Otherwise, you only hear your footsteps slapping pavement.
Suddenly, up above, all around, dozens of chattering birds surround. From treetop to treetop they call, they tattle, they sing. They dive, they wing between branches, they dance. What kind? You hear chickadee, you glimpse juncos, you see a nuthatch.
It’s the blessing of the flock! All around they create bird magic for you. They sing until you remember your dream-wings, the heft and tilt of flight. Don’t they remind you of seeds everywhere, hidden in bark crevices, to be found when needed and not a second before?
Later, down the road, silence returns. You catch your breath at the mystery of it, the way the flock surrounds and dissolves. How it teaches in a language of feathers and how it can change everything, simply in the arising.
Sometimes mysterious wild & crazy things just happen.
Like, let’s say, you’re visiting the bathroom early in the evening when–yes! outside the window!–a delicious almost-full moon arises. It settles between the branches of the poplar trees and winks boldly in the bathroom window singing its song of autumn harvests as it scales the past the colorful leaves, which, of course, one can’t see in the dark.
You search for your camera to try to capture the awesome beauty. Even though you fully know there’s only six chances in 100 that the camera will capture the Amore of the rising moon without a tripod.
Snap, snap, snap!
You return to bed with a yawn but now dream of love shining through a bathroom window, unexpected delight, Dean Martin crooning “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie..”
The next morning you upload the photos onto the computer. Yawn, yawn, one shouldn’t let that wily old moon keep you awake.
When–ohmygoodness!–holy moly!–what IS that appearing on the computer screen amidst the rather ordinary photos of a staid respectable moon?
Just sitting on the deck sipping tea
Surrounded by a yellow and orange forest
Jeweled reflections of sunlight against leaves
I breathe in beauty and sigh…
The way sound swirls in the dark
Last night, in the early hours before midnight, traveling silently through the dark house, I heard a strange sound.
Wind danced through the trees, blowing yellow leaves onto the earth. Wind’s melody crescendoed everywhere, but what else? What other sound sifted through closed windows, teased bright stars gleaming between clouds?
I opened the bathroom window and listened.
A quarter mile away laps the Huron Bay. Some music-lover, some kokopelli, some wild soul, threw wide the door to his heart and music reverberated across the waters. In stereo trilled the beckoning notes, urging us to follow.
Native American flute music-so loud you could almost reach out and touch its liquid mournful joy–serenaded us all.
The sun’s egg yolk eye of new possibility rises lower on the horizon these days. It’s starting to gab with the tree tops here in the woods. Some of the leaves turn starstruck with yellow, amazed that the sun pauses to talk with them. “To think,” some of the more spiritual ones whisper, “he even cares about us!”
Cold slips through the moon’s teeth at this time of year. You can’t see your breath under a full moon at midnight yet. (Not that I’d know. I’m asleep, dreaming, missing all the dark’s secrets.)
In the morning you debate: yes, no, maybe so. Should I start a fire in the wood stove? How much do you want to shiver early morning as you sip your steaming tea? Shall I wear my hooded 2000 University of Michigan sweatshirt over pajamas and burrow beneath the pink blanket?
I told Barry–no fire this morning. I’ll tough it out. He puttered away to work in the silver Buick. No need to scrape the car’s window yet.
Guess I lied. Match soon struck against box sending the sun’s cousin–firelight–working its magic against tree bark, igniting another early September blaze.
What it’s like to live in the woods
Sometimes I think I should write more posts about what it’s like to live in the woods.
How many people in this world still live in a forest surrounded by trees and more trees and a few more trees?
In a space carved out between poplars and maples and ravines with tiny streams flowing down to the bay about a quarter-mile away?
Posted in August 2013
Tagged chickadees, David George Haskell, forest, life, mosquitoes, nature, outdoors, The Forest Unseen, thoughts, Upper Peninsula, woods
We’re living in dangerous times, my friends.
It’s getting quite scary to open the front door.
We have eight–I repeat, eight–ruby-throated hummingbirds buzzing and squawking and hollering and dive-bombing anything that walks, flies or carries a camera.
Posted in June 2013
Tagged hummingbirds, humor, life, morel mushrooms, nature, outdoors, photography, photos, summer, thoughts, wood ticks, woods
Rushing stream with tiny waterfalls
The Long Winter seems to be exiting just in time for May. We can only hope. Last weekend the temperatures soared to about 70 degrees (21 C) and our snow began to melt, melt, melt.
We humans scurried outside, sun and warmth-deprived creatures, and we luxuriated.
I found an old cushion and sat with my back against maples and poplars and spruce, trying to feel the sap rising up my back.
Sat and delighted in Spring.
Here in the woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula we share the trees, the lakes, the snow, the paths, the rivers, the flora, the passing seasons with the wild ones, the wild creatures who roam the forests.
Sometimes days and weeks can go by without a glimpse of wild animals. You know they’re out there, you know they’re all around, but you perhaps only see deer munching by the roadside, squirrels or chipmunks scampering up the poplar, a lone eagle or hawk soaring overhead.
Yesterday afternoon I read an article in Orion magazine about the art of gazing. The author, Trebbe Johnson, urges us to open our hearts to brokenness in her powerful essay “Gaze even here.”
She shares about visiting a logged forest clearcut with friends. About how one wants to avert one’s eyes from devastation, from pain, from ugliness, from loss. Yet she and her companions remained in the scar of the decimated woods and lingered there for days.
The group questioned: what would happen if they simply settled into this damaged place observing the land and their own responses to it? Their intention was to get to know this place that they heartily wished to run from.
One crooked poplar survivor…
Posted in February 2013
Tagged clearcut, forest, life, logging, nature, Orion magazine, outdoors, philosophy, spirituality, thoughts, Trebbe Johnson, woods