Imagine walking to the mailbox, afternoon after afternoon. Out the front door, down the three circular wooden steps onto cement and grass and gravel. To your right lies a garden (in springtime newly planted) and to your left a tall oak tree spreads its arm-branches to the sky in reverence, seeking light through waving leaf hands.
Keep walking, oh you retriever of postal bills and junk mail and occasional treasures from the pens of friends and family. Keep walking, steadfastly, with sneakers or sandals or clunky winter boots. Do not go barefoot. You’ll regret that urge. Gravel will welt into your tender soles and you’ll be limping back to the house before you reach the garage.
Continue past yonder garage into the realm of the frog pond, where cattails push upwards from underwater depths. It’s really a small pond, hardly bigger than a yawn. Yet it’s nourishing to pause here and breathe and look beyond its perimeters into the woods.
In springtime–oh in springtime–a most lovely unfurling takes place. Life pushes forth, expands, sings, calls, croaks, slithers, dances, births. Something elementally emerges from winter’s long death-pause. It’s something you will feel in your body, if you’re not hurrying or lost in thoughts and plans and memories.
That’s the key to being present as you walk to the mailbox. “There’s an invitation to drop beneath our fascination with thought,” as my spiritual teacher says. Instead, notice what’s here besides that string of syllables appearing in your mind.
There’s plenty else here. Oh you ferns! Oh you lupine leaves! Oh the way the sun shines in spring lime greens (as my friend from Arizona, who once lived in northern Michigan) might say. She still swoons with the thought of scintillating lime spring greens. And how I appreciate her observation, because I never once thought of spring vibrancy as lime.
Every once in a while a woods animal will appear on your walk to the mailbox. A big fat bullfrog. A frolicking chipmunk with curious expression on its cute little face. A defiant squirrel, hollering its territorial boundaries. A lone chickadee perched atop a bare branch. A cawing blue jay. Startled doe. Sometimes, precious sometimes, a nuzzling fawn!
And this spring–you might become acquainted with a partridge.
Once upon a spring partridge. Coming out to greet you almost every day on your meander to the mailbox. “Mama partridge, mama partridge!” you might call as you pass the frog pond. “Where are you, Mama partridge?”
And soon, sure enough, you hear rustles in the leaves–sometimes to the right, other times to the left–and here comes Mama Partridge. All the way out onto the gravel she comes. Sometimes three feet from you. Forward, then retreat. Forward, then retreat again. She’s clucking and pecking at gravel and dirt.
You know she’s leading you away from her nest. She’s playing decoy. Somewhere eggs lie warm and round under this spruce tree, or that spruce tree, and she’s hatching her brood, the yet-unborn lovelies that will someday sound their drum-beat throughout the woods.
Except. How do you KNOW that yonder partridge is a Mama? What if–you gotta love nature–this fine lovely is actually a Papa? What if it’s Papa Partridge who greets you daily on the way to the mailbox? What if Mama sits quietly on the nest, day after spring day, and Papa surveys the woods and distracts passersby and mailbox-visitors?
If so, Papa gets A-plus for his distraction skills, doesn’t he? What a fine job, Papa! You’ll get so very close, but not close enough to stroke your long ruffed feathers.
How interesting you make these spring walks to the mailbox!
Once upon a partridge. How quickly spring turns toward summer. Soon the egglings will hatch. Will we see little ones following Mama, waddling like ducklings by the frog pond?
New mysteries to greet our eyes each trip, if we’re not completely lost in the movie of our thoughts, if we’re not completely bound up in our personal mini-dramas that seem so very important.
Now, if you choose, open that mailbox and see what other mysteries await you in this wide and infinite Universe.
Sending you love from our neck of the Upper Peninsula woods, Kathy
Like you, I’m blessed to live with many wildlife neighbors but I’ve never seen a partridge, though I’m familiar with the old Christmas song. Thank you for sharing yours with us.
We are so blessed with our woods, aren’t we? How interesting that you have never seen a partridge. Actually, where I grew up in downstate Michigan, we have pheasants but not too many partridge–I don’t think. Happy Tuesday to you! P.S. Do you have a mailbox you walk to each day?
We have wild life, not as exciting as yours. Birds, frogs and newts, a squirrel and an unknown animal who delights in digging up the new turf over night
Tilly, those unknown overnight diggers! We’ve had a few of our own over the years…notably a skunk that liked to tear up the lawn. I think your wildlife sounds just fine. 🙂
Kathy: Great photos. And I sort of walk to my mailbox each day-I go down the two flights of stairs from my condo to the front entrance area of my building where the mail boxes are located.
I also have some new blog posts on my blog at http://www.msmcword.wordpress.com
Nancy, your walk to the mailbox sounds similar to the walks that my kids make from their apartments to their mailboxes. One of the things I learned from a wilderness survival course I took back in the early 90s is that here is much more wildlife hanging around in the cities than people would ever suspect. Keep your eyes peeled!
Kathy, Until this year (though I think I was noticing it before and didn’t know what it was) I didn’t understand that people had thoughts while noticing or uhm instead of noticing. It also seems the more I hold dismay the less I can pay attention notice things beyond the chatter in my head. I wonder how it got in there! (and how do i irradicate it) Maybe i could notice it too and then draw my attention to a bit of gravel beside the partridge instead.
How very interesting, Elisa! I think there can be so much variability in the way we are all doing our inner processing. And, yes, so get your point about how hard i is to pay attention when we’re feeling awful. Then so much of our attention goes to our pain. As for getting rid of chatter…I think it may be impossible for a thought to eliminate other thoughts. Although, I have discovered the practice of extending silence or noticing in silence does tend to ramp down the thoughts over time. I like what you’ve suggested what else could be noticed in the moment. Sounds like something to try.
I used to walk to the mailbox every day, before my hips began to fuss at me. Now any excuse to not walk works – it’s too cold, the wind bites, the sun is too hot. But I do sit on one of my decks or by my window and watch the goings on outside. This is a lovely post.
Thank you, Carol. I am sorry your hips are hurting you, and I totally understand your reluctance to venture out on them. But I do know you see lots of things from your deck views and windows.
I love this! What a magical daily trip to the mailbox you have. Actually, the magic is you, for letting go of other things, and taking time to notice. Thanks for sharing! I don’t get mail delivery to my house on Beaver Island; I pick it up in town at the Post Office two or three times a week. More often if I think I might get a handwritten letter! That’s a rare treat. I do walk the dogs each day, morning and night. We vary our route, but I’ve walked each one hundreds of times. Still, there’s always something surprising, beautiful and new to see.
Cindy, it sounds like your dog walking is kind of the same as my mailbox meander. It sounds like the best part of having dogs is that a person can’t make excuses for staying inside. I think it sounds quaint that you go to the post office. A lot of people in our community have post office boxes in town, too. And oh the joys of a handwritten letter! Doesn’t happen that frequently these days…
I hope you go to the mailbox a little later since the new guy wants to be accurate and is not as fast as the 20+ year old retiree.😁
Ha ha, I LOVED your comment, Ruth. Hadn’t even remembered about our new mail guy while writing this! I have been going out past Mama or Papa Partridge later every day to get the mail. Remembering the learning curve… P.S. Barry weed-whacked yesterday evening and the partridge ran up to within five feet of his weed whacker! Good thing Barry didn’t whack him.
The mysteries in the mailbox can’t be anywhere near as glorious as what you find walking to said mailbox. (Even if there’s a pelican postcard from a mysterious sender…). Your “string of syllables” awaken me to be more aware on each of my “ordinary’ walks to complete “ordinary” tasks. If we only open our eyes, we may find the beauty of a partridge, or a turtle, our even better, the beauty of our thoughts whirling around us like a golden halo.
i burst out laughing at the love of the words golden halo! I shall try that, at the thoughts! I think i like it! Like a fancy important way of doing it lol
Good morning my mailbox friend and the sender of three pelicans rising and dancing on air waves! I, too, am taken by your “golden halo” of thoughts. There, you turned thoughts into something golden which can appear beside the partridge or postcard. What a divine turner-arounder you are!
But. Remember. YOU’RE the inspiration! ❤
I’m also in awe of the fresh, yes lime green, colors of early spring. It is a rare and fleeting treat here in New Mexico! Lovely post, Kathy!
Patty, part of me always thinks fondly of New Mexico and Arizona and wishes to spend more time there. So glad to be able to show you some of the lime greens of spring in Michigan. Thank you for visiting!
We need to welcome spring with open eyes and accepting hearts. Appreciate all that we experience.
My dear friend! How lovely to see you here. Yes…welcoming spring along with you. And appreciating so much, including you!
Nature is calming, and its flora, animals and critters have so much to tell us. Your writing style is sweet and joyous!
Laurene, thank you for your compliment! We just returned from a trip and I called for the Mama Partridge hoping she might be around. She came running out of the woods and got about six inches away. Every time I tried to gently reach out and touch her she skittered away nervously. Was concerned she might bite.
Lovely post, Kathy – a testament to the present moment. Our own spring was only spring on the calendar – it remained cold and wet in the mountains of CO. Last evening we had snow – yes, snow, on the second day of summer. Tonight more is due. I’m wondering if you’re gone from your little house in the woods and journeying into the wider world now for Kiah’s wedding? I’m thinking of you. Have a safe trip and a joyous time with family as you celebrate their marriage.
Barb, welcome home to Colorado! Can’t believe about the snow. Hope that you get some sunshine and hot soon. We have 90 degrees today! We have been gone from our little house and returned the day before yesterday after a wonderful wedding in Italy. Everyone wants photos but am having trouble finding pics of the exact wedding because I certainly wasn’t taking any. So appreciate your lovely note here!
Love the close-up of the partridge! What a lovely encounter to look forward to as you make your way to the mailbox. 🙂
Oh, Barbara, I could write another blog that describes an entirely different side of this “charming” partridge. He/she tried to attack me the other day! I am done with inter-species communication, lol. First the chipmunk bit me a few years back, now the partridge got feisty. Watch out for your seagull!
Oh no! Thanks for the warning ~ sometimes I do wonder how close is too close for wild birds and animals. So sorry to hear that your partridge decided to attack you and that the chipmunk changed his tune. We humans aren’t always the best interpreters of inter-species communications!
I love the way your mind words, Kathy 🙂 Poetic, as usual, and very pleasant to read.
Thank you so much, friend from across the bay!
Sometimes, I just want to express how thankful I am to you, that you took your time to write down such a nice description about a simple thing like this. I’m so glad I have this space to come over and always feel fresh, revived, cleansed from all chaos, and just breathe and feel the purity of the green pictures you posted.
Here where I live in a small town, my mailbox is also covered up by the greens. Though these days, no one really posts me something personal or greetings, but mostly they are just advertisements and local magazines. Digitization is so cold! I will always appreciate, this feeling the urge to walk up to the mailbox 😀
Sonali, it’s not mailed yet…but keep an eye on your mailbox over the next few weeks. One of these days something will find its way from my heart to yours!
Is that the attack partridge you alluded to in your birthday post? I have never seen one before despite years of singing about them in pear trees. Alas my pear tree remains partridgeless
Yes indeed–the very same partridge. And guess what? I saw him again at the end of the driveway a few days ago. He flew up into a tree. Not a pear tree, though, alas. How fortunate you are to have a pear tree, even without the partridge. 🙂