Each day begins here with a parade of ten feet,
straight to the back door.
Standing in bathrobe and bare feet, I pulled the curtain and clicked open the lock on the sliding glass door. The dogs bounded outside, animated with unbridled enthusiasm for the smells of a new day. This is our morning ritual. I open the door, and they rush to experience the day in the “here and now.” On this morning, I stood behind the glass, reading very tiny letters that scrolled across my phone, ignoring the magnitude of the direct revelation that lie just outside this half-opened doorway.
Dogs are pragmatic and opportunistic, especially in the morning. There were two activities afoot; parallel purposes of equal importance. The first: find what is “different.” What has changed in my universe since I passed here last? WHAT is NEW? Novelty is a powerful stimulus.
“Rabbit was here, …..ugh, that squirrel, Blast him!
Yup, Possum passed by… what is … THIS!”
His nose dusted a pile of sultry pellets with the smell of Kale from the garden. He froze in perfect “Retriever” posture, pointing to the Hawk overhead. The hawk screeched out his protest at the indignity of being “run off” by the gang of blackbirds nesting on the swampy edges of the open field next door. The dog’s interests lie mainly in waterfowl, retrieving a raptor isn’t part of his genetic programming. He moved on. Each novel sensation analyzed, swift judgements noted, their astute observations filed within the canine collective wisdom under “What I know,” or “I’ll pretend I didn’t smell that.”
My eyes did see the midnight blue Morning Glories. I heard the Sparrow call his mate from the garden fence, but my mind, my distracted, busy mind was attentive only to what I had chosen to see. I was engrossed in a research article concerning the benefits of children spending time in NATURE.
That’s NATURE in capital letters,The evidence based therapeutic NATURE comes with trained professionals and private funding. It is not the “garden variety” cavalcade of Nature that lives in my house, under my house, and all around all of us. That Nature is so richly accessible here that I need to wipe it off my feet before coming into the house.
Meanwhile, in the yard, the dogs had moved on to the second agenda; finding the best place to squat and eliminate that which was indigestible from the day before. It seems that a bit of visceral adrenalin helps in satisfying this task as well. A good bark, a growling offensive at the Woodchuck through the fence and viola! whatever didn’t serve yesterday is gone. Could it actually be that easy to discard the unusable “stuff” of life and start fresh?
Mammals enjoy watching a good “fight for survival,”
keeps us regular.
A soft breeze carrying the fragrance of wet willows blew by me as I stood at the open door. It cajoled my attention away from the incendiary news headlines, Facebook posts, and late summer LAST DAY sales that clogged my Inbox, I saw a tiny movement halfway across the yard. It was just visible above the grass as long as a week of rainy days. Two black wing tips fluttered open, then closed again.
I stepped out the door, off the deck, and settled bare feet into wet grass, all the while watching the slow cadence of the wings, without drawing the dog’s attention. A few good breaths and I was “in it,” back in Nature as a participant instead of an observer. We are after all, also THAT.
Moving closer soundlessly, I could see the black wingtips of a Swallowtail Butterfly. I saw the velevt softness of her wings, decorated with sky blue dots, and false eye spots that could fool a nearsighted potential predator. Her perfectly articulated “swallow tail” wings echoed the barn swallows that swooped overhead, feasting on post rain mosquitoes. Silent wings opened and closed to her own music as she extended her proboscis to partake of what this world had to offer.
Abundance all around and you choose this…?
This is late July in the short Operetta that is a northern NY summer. On this patch of land, on my watch, the people get paths and the wild things get everything else. The Milkweed is for the Monarchs, the red clover, and Queen Anne’s lace bring in bees and bugs of all sizes. There was a pot of vermillion Geraniums on the deck and a galvanized bucket of summer Zinnias in Crayola colors next to the tree, a yard away. The tall Phlox are just blooming, and even the Spring-time Wisteria has a few late entries nearby. For a Butterfly in July here there is so much to feast on.
Despite all the “Healthy Choices,” this beautiful creature, product of astounding feats of adaptation and evolution was sitting on yesterday’s dog food indigestibles, yes, she was enthralled and enthroned on a pile of yesterday’s rain soaked dog feces. And what’s worst, she looked quite pleased about her find. I checked back in an hour and she was still there, apparently fascinated with this pile of dung. This sad scene was reminiscent of my intended 2-minute email check that becomes an hour-long romp through Pinterest and beyond. Hours dissolve while a weedy garden waits, and good books go unread. The metaphor slapped me in the face, and I am taking this to heart.
The extraordinary devices of connection and communications are merely tools and not wise Oracles. Are someone else’s selections and their advertising sidekicks worth that much space in my life? Second hand emotions and pre-digested opinions are no equal to direct experience. I will take my Nature straight, and I don’t need a battery.
Maybe I’ll get a watch.