Yesterday, Jeff and I were going in circles. The same conversational circles we always find ourselves wandering whenever we start to talk about the future. About Where to Live. When. How. There are so many constraints on our decision making process. Not the least of which is that I feel utterly lost when it comes to choosing a new town or area. It’s not that I don’t know what I want. That is actually the problem. I know (and so do you if you have been reading for a while) as deep as my bones where it is I want to be, where I feel drawn. And it’s not the Bay Area, and right now, our circle of choice doesn’t extend more than an hour outside of San Francisco.
As I bumped up against that same wall, with tears and frustration, I looked out our bedroom window. Just in time to see the arrival.
All dizzying path wandering stopped. We all froze and Fern yelled, “Hawk!”
We have been watching this friend for two years, and just last week Jeff watched it pick apart a pigeon for breakfast. But never has it come so close.
We drew close to the window, and it peered in at us, cocking its head this way and that. Satisfied that we had gotten a good look, it continued on its way.
My love of nature has nothing to do with abstraction, with projecting my own values onto a blank screen of rock, tree and flesh. This love comes from conversation. And from reciprocity. Of seeing, and of being seen. Of listening, and of being listened to. Jung called it synchronicity. And it can be experienced nearly anywhere, since wilderness, like a city, is an area teeming with entities.
Paul Stamets loves to talk about “Nature’s First Internet”. The Mychorrizal webs of fungi that weave and support and bring nutrients to the roots of all plant beings under the soil. When we walk in a forest, the mycelium springs up under our feet, looking to grab any debris we leave behind. Walking a mindful path takes on a new meaning.
Diana Beresford-Kroeger, a scientist and animist extraordinaire speaks of praying in gaelic, only to open her eyes and discover that the trees are leaning towards her, sympatico. (Thanks, Veronica!!)
Trees in the city are essentially “lonely”, as they are cut off from the fungal web that normally would connect them. I can relate.
Recently, amongst despair and rage and activism, I have also been feeling bereft. Exhausted and depleted. When The Crusades were happening, I wonder if the Christian hearts ever stopped in reckoning at the disconnect between going to war and the soft openness they felt in contemplation of Christ? It doesn’t make much sense to go to bat for saving our Earth, only to turn away from that gentle conversation that leads me to my own redemption. Eyes downturned have forgotten to look at the skies. So the sky decided to come to me. Nature misses us too.
Sleeping in the Forest
I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times