Today is one of those excellent January partly cloudies in which light chooses an unexpected part of the landscape to trick out in gilt, and then the shadow sweeps it away. You know you’re alive. You take huge steps, trying to feel the planet’s roundness arc between your feet. ~Annie Dillard from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
After years of rarely paying attention, too busy with whatever household or clinic or barnyard task needed doing, I realized there are only a finite number of sunrises and sunsets left to me and I don’t want to miss them, so now I stop, take a deep breath and feel lucky to be alive, a witness to that moment.
Sometimes they are plain and gray just as I am, but there are days that are lit from above and beneath with a fire that ignites across the sky. I too am engulfed for a moment or two, until sun or shadow sweeps me away, transfixed and transformed, forever grateful for the light.
I believe you’ll be able to say, as I can say today: ‘I’m glad I’m here.’
Believe me, all of you, the best way to help the places we live in is to be glad we live there. ~Edith Wharton from Summer
I’m reminded today and every day: I’m glad I’m here. I would choose no other place to be.
I’m especially thankful as I gaze out at this 360 degree landscape every morning and again as the evening light flames bright before fading at night.
This place — with its vast field vistas, its flowing grasses, its tall firs, its mountain backdrops — has been beautiful for generations of native people and homesteaders before I ever arrived thirty three years ago.
It will remain so for many more generations long after I am dust – gladness is the best fertilizer I can offer up to accompany God-given sun and rain.
I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June. ~L. M. Montgomery from Anne of the Island
Each month is special in its own way: I tend to favor April and October for how the light plays on the landscape during transitional times — a residual of what has been with a hint of what lies ahead.
Then there is June. Dear, gentle, full blown and overwhelming June. Nothing is dried up, there is such a rich feeling of ascension into lushness of summer combined with the immense relief of tight schedules loosening.
And the light, and the birdsong and the dew and the greens — such vivid verdant greens.
As lovely as June is, 30 days is more than plenty or I would become completely saturated. Then I can be released from my sated stupor to wistfully hunger for June for 335 more.
I’m a bit wary of looking out the window these days as I am so easily swept away and then am useless to accomplish anything else. The landscape is exploding with layers of color and shadow and standing too close, I too am ignited. It is impossible to witness so much unfolding life and light and not be engulfed and singed.
It lures me outside where flames of green lap about my ankles as I stroll the fields and each fresh breeze fans the fires until I’ve nothing left of myself but ash and shadow.
The earth invalid, dropsied, bruised, wheeled Out in the sun, After frightful operation. She lies back, wounds undressed to the sun, To be healed, Sheltered from the sneapy chill creeping North wind, Leans back, eyes closed, exhausted, smiling Into the sun. Perhaps dozing a little. While we sit, and smile, and wait, and know She is not going to die. ~Ted Hughes from ” A March Morning Unlike Others” from Ted Hughes. Collected Poems. London: Faber & Faber, 2003
Spring emerged slowly this year from an exceptionally haggard and droopy winter.
All growing things were a month behind the usual budding blooming schedule when, like the old “Wizard of Oz” movie, the landscape suddenly turns from monochrome to technicolor.
Yearning for the annual greening to commence, I tapped my foot impatiently as if owed a timely transformation from dormant to verdant. We all have been waiting for the Physician’s announcement that the patient survived some intricate life-changing procedure: happy to say the earth is alive after all and restored, wounded but healing, breathing on her own but too dozy for a visit just yet.
And now her recovery has happened in an overwhelming rush — the colors, the scents, the bird songs, the softness more than overwhelming the sharp-edged bare barbed wire of winter.
I waited impatiently for her emergence and now celebrate my immersion in her healing.
She is very much alive, this temporary home of ours.
No invalid this patient.
She lives, she breathes, she thrives,
she is blooming with everything she’s got
and now so am I.
…Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting- over and over announcing your place in the family of things. ~Mary Oliver from “Wild Geese”
Snow geese are populating the Skagit valley and farm land, as numerous as the scores of colorful tulips which soon will fill nearby fields. The din of the flocks as they land and feed, then rise again in the air is astounding: a symphony of honks and hollers carried from one goose family to another in a ruckus of joyful abandon.
The Skagit flats become the New York City of snow geese for a few weeks, never sleeping.
Over the past few years, more snow geese wander up north closer to home here in Whatcom County to pepper our surrounding dormant cornfields like salt, sprinkled half a dozen here and there across the Nooksack river valley. When there are only a few together, their calling seems so melancholy, almost a disconsolate cry of abandonment carrying over the lonely countryside.
So too am I ensconced away from the clamorous masses, preferring always to be part of an out-of-the-way rural landscape. There may be moments of melancholy, to be sure. Yet here, as nowhere else, I know my place in the family of things — of gray clouds, owl hoots, swampy wetlands, frog choruses, orange sunsets, pink sunrises, warm pony muzzles, budding snowdrops, and steaming manure piles.
I give myself up to wild abandon in a world offering itself up to my imagination instead of leaving nothing to the imagination.
Let the cities clamor and clang in their excitement. They do just fine without me.
Instead I celebrate the relative silence that allows me to seek words to fit the music singing in my soul.