"We forget that nature itself is one vast miracle transcending the reality of night and nothingness." Loren Eisley.
Sometimes I can't believe how blessed I am to be alive right now, and able experience this summer morning. Bright sunshine sparkles like diamonds in grass that's damp after last night's rain. Blue sky, green leaves, sharp shadows under sober and dignified old trees. The air smells fresh, with only the slightest hint of breeze. The day promises to be hot and muggy later, but for now the temperature is perfect, shirt-sleeve and shorts weather.
I know this morning will not last, and will slide into memory, as will this all. A vague memory emerges of summer walks with my long-deceased father, how much he loved this, and how gone those days are. But that's the point of the present, the miracle of the moment, that we are where we are, and when we are, and that's all that is or can be. I do my best to take it in.
Chickadees chatter in the cherry tree a dozen feet away, a cardinal calls, finches float to the feeder and settle there, squabbling mildly as they grab a few safflower seeds. A bluejay screeches, reminding me of boyhood summers, morning walks along country roads or wooded paths. They're pretty birds, but mean and self-centered, who won't hesitate to break open the eggs of other birds or drive them away. But that's what they are, who am I to judge? The same with the wrens singing over the birdhouses; pretty unless you cross an invisible line around their nest, at which point they scold and yell and circle and try to make life miserable for any possible invader.
I look out over a row of hostas with tall stalks reaching skyward, about to burst into flower. The day-lilies are now in bloom, and promising more. A chipmunk slips out from under the hostas, moving carefully toward the bird seeder; he'll nose around for spilled seeds and shimmy up there until the birds startle him away. At some point the squirrels will mosey over and climb up the platform feeder to fill their cheeks with sunflower seeds, that they will stash away and forget. A cottontail rabbit or two will emerge from under the lilly patch. They like it here, no dogs to chase them. I also have a couple flower beds of sorts, ground cover under which they can hide at an instant. Sometimes a rabbit will sprawl out in the middle of the stone patio, and take a dust-bath in the sunshine -- that's the surest sign of trust, when a rabbit makes itself vulnerable like that.
When I look over the lawn I also see that it's not a golf-course-perfect bed of grass; it's got a heavy and spreading infestation of creeping charlie, a viney plant that infiltrates across the lawn. I also see patches of clover and (I'm glad of this) only an occasional dandelion. That brings me to the issue of "lawn order." I'm moving more and more toward letting the lawn be what it wants, instead of whipping it into a shape I've been trained to expect. I think it's good to have a refuge back here from the chemical-coated lawns of perfection. I like the clover, I remember looking for the four-leaf ones, and of watching the bees climb over the small white flowers. Not many bees right now, and that's both sad and worrisome, another indication that our pollution and regulation of the planet is reaching a tipping point.
The same with the Monarch butterflies. Back to that boyhood of mine, many decades ago, back when farms had many fence-rows and uncultivated clumps, where milkweed grew for the Monarchs. Now we have edge-to-edge planting and cultivation, which makes for more production, but also more uniformity and fewer and fewer natural plants. That's why I mostly leave the edges of my lawn totally alone, and let what wants to be grow along the fences. I somehow think that Nature knows better than I what might grow best here, or even what growths are most needed. I have one place near the fence where the maple roots have grown to the surface and made for an uneven, bumpy, place that is hard on my mower blade. So I set out a couple rows of rock, with a decaying piece of pine log joining the two rock rows. I'm just letting it grow, and already a buckthorn tree has taken root there, a nasty thing in the realm of lawn and shrub order, since they introduce toxins into the soil around them to discourage competition -- I pull them out from under the dogwood shrubs, but I'll let them grow in my rock row, along with the clover and tall grass that's already shown up.
That I am alive to watch this is a miracle and a blessing. And I'm learning that with nature, as with any miracle, it's best to leave it be and let it be, and not try to coax it or "help it along."
May your morning be as joyous as mine.
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