I am accepting the Juniper tree as my plant teacher. When I sit amongst his/her boughs, there is an energy that keeps me, that accepts my wandering mind and soul and quiets them. It happened again last night as I set out with a different mind set: stop running deep into the woods in search of escape; remain closer to the community and find a bridge between civilization and wilderness. A gesture of acceptance for what challenges me.
In this new but old spot the Junipers called me to their perch, just above a den that has hidden sleeping wild creatures. They sheltered me as I peered out from their feathered branches into the meadows and the gulch. A robin hopped along the creekside, looking for worms after a hard afternoon rain. And then as the light darkened to grey, I turned my focus to the little meadow — the place where the fox darted weeks ago. And there came a bobcat, silently plodding along, out for the hunt. It was but a two second glimpse into his life, but it felt private. It is a powerful feeling to remain hidden from the wild creatures that know so much more about the forest and its inhabitants than we do.
Today as I approached my sit spot, with an attention to being invisible, I happened upon a hummingbird harassing a ground squirrel. I wondered why a hummingbird would care about a ground squirrel, and felt humbled by how little I understand. Everything is connected.
Across the meadow a weasel spotted me. He stood up on his hind legs and watched me as I watched him. Eventually, he determined I wasn’t significant and carried on, down the meadow out of my sight. I feel that weasels are trying to teach me something. Our paths keep crossing. I’ll have to think on that.
I sat in the quiet and listened to the cicadas clicking and buzzing. The forest was alive with sound. Something I’d never heard before called from across the creek. A bird I thought, but perhaps not. I am still a little tormented by hearing something I can’t see, but my skills are not developed enough, yet, to track down the source. My learning is just in becoming familiar with the sounds, creating my own library of forest noises. There will be many years to make connections.
I walked through a strong new odor. Upon reflection, I am proud to be noticing smells. Indeed my awareness grows.
I brought home the currants with the white umbrella like clusters of flowers. I think they are black currants, but the ID isn’t certain. I’ll have to note their location and watch for the fruits.
I have maintained this spot, off and on, as a place to gather my thoughts and observations as we romp in the woods, mama and kiddos. The thought was to create a themed space, but as it turns out, to categorize our experience with the earth as separate from everything else we do feels so directly in contradiction to our experience — our connectedness to the earth is all encompassing, it is theme-less. So I’ll keep sharing our experiences at our catch-all home on the web: connected at the roots.
The two harbingers of spring in these parts are the Mountain Bluebird and the Pasque Flower (Prairie Crocus). Bluebirds are tough to miss: an impossible blue, a merry flight, a preference for open land where they are easy to spot. And when you see one, you will see many. Bluebirds announce the arrival of spring with song, dance and celebration.
The Pasque flower, on the other hand, represents the quieter side of spring. To notice this hairy little fellow, quite modest in its early days, one must walk slowly. Perhaps it’s my fondness for plants, or perhaps it’s an appreciation for the humbler side of spring, or perhaps it’s just the anticipation — the slow daily walks with an attention to the details. Regardless of the source of my admiration, my first spotting of this early-bird crocus brings me a quiet delight, a celebration of the heart. The boys enjoy the hunt too; and they celebrate, for a fleeting quiet moment.
Yesterday we watched a water glider skitter around in fresh snow melt. Water gliders make me think of summer. Wow.
We didn’t have to travel far, though, to forget those thoughts. Just inside RMNP there’s still deep snow. While there was sunshine and short sleeves at home, in the park snow was whirling up high; down low it was still gloves and hat weather. We visited my favorite quick winter stop: the Cub Lake trail head. A frozen river, big river-worn rocks, and a short walk guarantee an easy good time. We could stay for hours doing nothing more than throwing rocks and breaking ice. I don’t know if it gets any better for a few boys that need to blow off some steam and a mama at the end of her day.
With the boys’ tired out from lifting and tossing, they slowed down a bit and we started seeing the world as opposed to just rushing through it –it’s always good to take care of bodies first then minds. The bright colors of the willow were in stark contrast to a day of browns and grays.
On our way out of the park we got the grand show: bull elk congregating in Horseshoe Park and bighorn sheep along Fall River Road. We played tourist and stopped along side the road to watch. We also spotted a magpie nest and bluebirds flitting about all over Moraine Park. Even with whirling snow, spring has sprung in the park.
in the last two days we’ve seen mountain bluebirds return from their southern home, wyoming ground squirrels emerge from their underground beds, earth worms tilling the earth, geese announcing their northward flight, and the most unbelievable: an itty-bitty grasshopper, plucked by very delicate hands from the straw that covers our garden bed.
spring is such a grand reminder of the regenerative power of the earth. the same regenerative power exists within each of us. this seems an important time to be reminded of that power. it helps me to focus on that in these times that are incomprehensible. strength and fragility coexist. in spring. in life.
This weekend we were skiing out our front door in 18 inches of fluff. Today the sun overwhelmed us on our early morning walk. There are some crazy days ahead, no doubt. I have complained before. But, actually, I am developing quite a fondness for spring in the mountains– the blue sky days as well as the snows and winds. What I look forward to most in these next months is the slow emergence of life. There will be no fields of color springing up, no green canopies. In the mountains, that is the stuff of summer. Here admiring spring requires a slow step, a faithful heart, an observant eye. It is the season that finds me bent over with field guides in hand, persistently looking for the next bit of life to emerge. Spring, though fierce and showy in the skies, is so humble on the earth.
Today, on this first day of March, my eyes were lifted from the earth. We were gifted with a pair of Golden Eagles circling over the rock we call Shaman. Even E-man, whose soul has been noisy and mind busy as of late, stayed behind a little longer while his brothers and I were pushed on by growling bellies. Yes indeed, what a gift.