As I listen to the Birdsong this morning, I am reminded that each song comes from a being with unique and important life. Each with a path to follow and lessons to learn. I am grateful for the camaraderie found in this perspective and will work to remember it whenever I feel lonely.
As I walked back from the screen house this morning, I was grateful to see my bare foot prints in the fresh Snow. It brings my awareness to this past Winter when I almost lost one of my toes tp frostbite, but I work to return my focus to this moment where I still have all my toes and can enjoy the feeling of the wet early Spring snow on my feet.
The first ting I heard this morning was the Ocean. Waves after wave was crashing on the beach three miles Northeast of the cabin. Next, I heard the Wind swirling high I the trees. I knew a storm was coming, but it seems that wind and wave were predicting the storm as well. This got me wondering if there might always be signs of things to come swirling around me, more subtle than strong winds and high waves, but there non the less.
Today, I will be on the lookout for subtle winds and waves cluing me into what is around the bend, and maybe just outside the limits of my imagining.
As the mornings continue to brighten, I lose the opportunity to see the Starts before they fade behind the pale blue Sky of Early Spring. At first I become sentimental, then I return to a position of gratitude for having a physical body that can experience the beauty of the Stars and Sky. This brings me to a position of appreciation for everything I can see and touch and smell. I remember that these gifts are temporary, and will fade like Stars in the morning Sky.
This morning I looked up and noticed a new pattern in the limbs of Birch tree. It took me a moment to realize that I was seeing Birch tree's Spring buds starting to form. As cold as it is this morning, Birch tree is anticipating the warm sunlight of Spring and preparing to be nourished. It occurs to me that Birch tee is doing this not because we are guaranteed a warm Sun filled spring, but because this is what Burch can do. Her limbs might get ripped off if her unfurled buds accumulate clumps of heavy late Spring Snow, but in this moment, it is the right thing to do.
Sitting outside this morning, the Snow pelting my face, I hear Sparrow's alarm call. She was sitting in a tree just Southeast if me. I wonder, for a moment if, she is complaining about the Snow pelting her face as well. I am grateful for the moments I spent with Sparrow this morning, but as I head inside and out of the storm, I remember that Sparrow will be out in it for as long as it lasts.
My culture invites me to think that being inside during the storm is the right place to be, but Sparrow's and my Ancestors sat outside in storms together for millenia before there was an “inside.” I wonder what gifts this discomfort will bring my Sparrow cousin today?
This morning I saw two Deer down by the pond. I knew why they were there. They were eating the buds off of the Apple tree taken down by the last Snow storm. Loosing that Tree means we won't get any more apples from it. Losing that Tree also meant that the Deer had something to eat this morning.
This gets me thinking about balance again. There are so many invitations in my culture to ignore the side of balance that doesn't seem to serve me. I am reminded that I can never know the outcome of everything that happens. It might turn out that losing that Tree was the most important thing that ever happened to me. I don't know. All I know is that the Tree came down and the Deer got breakfast. The rest will have to wait till another day.
There is an abundance of Bird calls this morning. As I listen, I realize they are all familiar, but I can only name a few. I have not taken the time to connect the Bird I hear with the ones I see. Is it something I will not do, or something I have yet to do? Taking up the “yet” position makes it a future possibility, rather than a past failure.
2/14/18 A Cherry wood burl showed up in the firewood this morning. Having been split, I could see the complexity Tree had created to deal with the stress she had experienced. I was struck by the beauty of Tree's response. Whether it was a virus or fungus or cut, Tree had created something wonderful as a result.
Tree got me thinking about how often I might miss the beauty of someone's response to a crisis. My culture teaches me to pay attention to the crisis, not our response. Yet the response is what manifests who what we hold dear. Tree makes a beautiful burl. What do I do?
2/15/18 Yesterday, I was going to write about Duck. I had heard the squeaky flying of Duck heading North. I could just barely make her out in the brightening morning light. I thought, though, that writing about her today would be dishonest, since I had seen her yesterday. As I sat this pondering this, she flew past once again, heading North.
She got me thinking about how true opportunities always return. My culture teaches me that opportunities are fleeting and that I have to grab them before they are gone. Duck reminds me that opportunities came back again and again until I recognize them, and understand the lesson. I wonder what I missed yesterday that will show up again today?
2/16/18 I am struck by the abundant opportunities I have to return to the moment. Every second invites to to notice where I am. Am I here now? Now I am.
2/17/18 This morning I had to feed the Dog that lives with us. My wife usually does it, but she is out of town. The only thing that stood in the way of her getting to her food was me getting up. Still, she seemed happy to get her ears rubbed before I got out of bed. I'm not saying it would have lasted forever, but in that moment she seemed content to stand by the bed while I was still in it.
She got me thinking about the idea of Love being more important than food. We've figured out a way to produce enough food to feed the whole world (it seems that starvation is more a question of politics than supply), but it doesn't seem like we've figured out how to Love the whole world.
Well, I did eventually feed the Dog, but I'm left wondering if she knows something that I have lost track of.
2/18/18 The Snow falls in light puffs from the Trees, gently floating down to the Earth, but the Sky is bright blue. This blizzard starts at the top of the Trees leaving the Sky clear so the Sun can shine through. Rain drips down from the roof of the cabin, as it occurs to me that I have never seen this before; A bright blue blizzard.
This day reminds me that every day is unlike any other. It's uniqueness is always available for me to see, but sometimes I miss it, distracted by this thought or that. I am grateful that I noticed this one.
2/19/18 As I sit this morning, Earth's arc unfolds before me. It unfolds independent of the judgments I make about myself or anything I see. What I am blinded to by the rules I foist upon her diminishes only me. The untethered arc of the Earth teaches me patience. I will allow myself the time I need for my blindness to lift.
2/20/18 The melting Snow creates mist in the cool morning air, as the Sun rises orange then yellow in the East. After cresting the horizon enough to be fully round, I see it shining at me though many Tree branches. All this creates the effect of a small rust colored halo encircling the Sun. As I wonder if anyone else is seeing what I am seeing, I am struck by my desire to share. It does not seem to me that it would improve the experience, I am simple caught by the uniqueness of what I am seeing and hoping someone else is able to see it as well. As time passes the top of the halo become defuse and shafts of light begin to form. Moments later the rusty halo is gone, replaced by the next phase of this beautiful Sunrise. It occurs to me that even if someone else had been there with me, no one would have seen exactly what I saw. My experience is a combination of many factors, one of which is always me. I leave grateful for the Sunrise and wonder what the next moment will bring.
2/21/18 Just East of yurt, the Vernal Pool has formed. Although it is quite early this year, I am grateful to see it. It's presence means that the creature cousins that will be born in it will be a part of our Spring. Vernal Pools are temporary and only last a few months at most, sometimes only for days.
The Pool gets me thinking about the importance of temporary things. How often I get seduced into thinking that things will last forever. Vernal Pool reminds me that they don't, and encourages me to appreciate the moments that present themselves when they do. In each moment lives an infinite number of possibilities for me to notice.
2/22/18 This morning the cool air seemed somehow special. I drank it in and thought about how grateful I am to have access to clean breathable air.
2/23/18 I sit in the screen house and notice Housefly, frozen to one of the screens. It will be clod today, so I don't know if she will thaw out and fly again, nor do I know if she will survive even if she does. Her food is frozen and tonight the air will once again be too cold for her.
Housefly's path and mine have crossed in this moment, and she gets me thinking about how I might intervene. This brings me to consider my intentions. I realize I want to help her, but I don't know how. Then I realize that I don't even know what I mean by “help.” I could try to move her out of the screen house, but that might injure her, and she might already be dead, so moving her would be of no use. I am struck by this experience as Housefly challenges me to consider the complexity of the idea of “help.” As I sit with the question, I return to the idea of crossing paths. I realize that all the while I have been thinking about how my crossing Housefly's path may be of service to Housefly. Then I realize the powerful effects of Housefly having crossed mine.
2/24/18 Returning to the screen house, I find Housefly is still there. I sit momentarily saddened by her demise, then I notice she is moving. The air is warmer today, and will be warmer still later in the day, so I decide that I will move her outside, but as I contemplate my actions it occurs to me how often I assume myself as the only actor in these plays.
“What will I do,” I ask myself? But I am not the only actor. There is also Housefly, and the person who built the screen house, their parents, my parents and Housefly's parents; the list could go on and on.
This brings me once again back to the idea of intersections. All of these actor's actions have intersected in this moment. Housefly's most recent action was to move. Mine was to move her. I left her resting on the railing of the deck. I don't know what she will do next. I will go inside and eat my breakfast.
2/25/18 I wake to find Doe bedded down, just Northwest of the yurt. Heather is singing in the basement and Doe seems to be listening. Her big ears are directed toward the cabin, and here eyes are focused in this direction. But is she?
This gets me thinking about how often I see my creature cousin through the lens of me. I don't know if Doe is listening, but I know that, if it were me, I would be listening.
I work to peel away from the limits of my expectations and experience the intersection of Doe and me. Doe's eyes close as her head moves to look Southeast. Doe chews. Doe turns her head to the West. Doe stands. Doe reaches down to eat something.
These seem like non-evaluative statements, but I am left wondering if there might be even more for me to see if I move further away from the lens of me.
2/26/18 Every morning, before I light the fire, I have to remove some of yesterday's ashes from the firebox. My culture teaches me to think about ash as the remnants of something, as refuse.
As I scoop the ash from the wood stove I notice how beautiful it is. There seem to be a million different grays and shades of black. The shapes are as plentiful, from tiny specs smaller than a grain of dust to larger flakes. I study them for a moment before I release them into the ash bucket, where they collapse, fragile as a Snowflake, and billow up like smoke.
I am struck by this beautiful transformation I am privileged to witness.
2/27/18 I exit the cabin through the Eastern door with the Dog that lives with us. As I do, I scan what is in front of me, not wanting to miss someone before they run or fly or scurry away. Dog is very excited, but I see nothing. I wonder if she isn't noticing some kind of afterimage of the Deer who was here yesterday. Then, not forty feet in front of me, Doe flips her tail up and trots Northeast toward Pine grove. Once there, she lays down, and looks back at me.
I am grateful to Doe for reminding me how much I have to learn about truly noticing what is right in front of me.
2/28/18 As I head for my sitting spot this morning, I notice a piece of wood that didn't make it onto the wood shed. Until recently it was covered with Snow, so I didn't see it. This got me thinking about how the path of this piece of wood is completely different from the path it would have had had it made it into the wood pile. Being under the snow for so long, I t is too wet to burn this year. Depending on when I get around to tossing it into the shed, it may end up being too wet to burn ever, as it may begin to rot. This is true for me to. A minor change happens and my journey gets diverted in a new direction.
3/1/18 There is a Zen koan about cleaning your bowl. It is, in some ways, about doing the next right thing. This morning I had to clean my bowl for breakfast. I was struck by how often thinking about writing about my experience got in the way of me attending to my experience.
Now I will eat my breakfast.
3/2/18 I sit in my spot this morning in the Rain and Wind. At times I hear Wind howl and blow the Rain sideways. The forecast says the storm will get worse with higher winds and driving rain. That is not happening now. I find ideas about what might be distracting me from what is. I let the sound of Wind and Rain bring me back to what is happening right now and let what will be take care of itself.
3/3/18 The cabin is solid. Unlike a stick frame house, the cabin is built from big solid logs. They don't move. Even still, yesterday evening, when the winds were gusting upwards of 60 miles per hour, she creaked. Only once, but she did.
Even in the midst of that kind of wind, the old Cherry tree in the back still stands. The wind was strong enough to sway her bare branches, but not wild enough to topple her. This morning I see her, still standing back by the pond.
She got me thinking about the idea of being old and strong. My culture teaches me that being old is bad, and that once I passed thirty, I was in decline. Cherry tree reminds me that I can be old and strong; that the beauty of being old isn't the same as the beauty of being young, but it is still beauty.
Cherry stands beautiful and old, and still strong enough to get through all that life has blown at her so far. Thanks Cheery tree for reminding me that I have, too.
3/4/18 I hear the song of the Wind, but I do not understand it. Is that because I can not, or I will not?
3/5/18 I got to sleep outside last night. The distant sound of waves lulled me to sleep. I was struck by the effects sleeping outside had in my experience of temperature. I found it quite pleasant this morning walking back to the cabin, even though it was thirty degrees out. I am struck by how much my experience of what is is connected to what was.
3/6/18 This morning, I am grateful for abilities. I have the ability to release stress that is a part of the future, the past, or my imagination. Whether I do or not is up to me.
3/7/18 Another storm looms and I think about the things we do here at the cabin to prepare. Water jugs filled, extra wood laid in, and all the dishes clean. This gets me thinking about the difference between living in the future and planning for it. Living in the future has no effect. It simply cultivates worry and fear. Planning for the future is about actions. I'll bring the wood in and fill the water jugs. If the storm comes we will be ready, if it doesn't, at least all the dishes will be clean.
3/8/18 I sit is amazement of the wonder of the Earth. I work to avoid the distractions of an assessment based solely on my personal needs. I will move the Snow not because it has to be moved, but because in order for me to do what I choose to do, it will have to move. It is beautiful none the less.
3/9/18 I look around the cabin and notice all the downed Trees and stressed Shrubs. There is a lot of work to do to clean up after our last storm. If I think about doing it all at once, I get overwhelmed. But if I only focus on the task at hand, it all seems manageable. So I return my focus to cutting up the Strawberries I froze last summer. I will pile them on my breakfast and let the Trees wait till the Snow melts.
3/10/18 As I am about to take a step out of the Eastern door, I notice the Snow that is about to greet my feet. It appears to be frozen, and I anticipate the sharp uncomfortable edges as I reach down with my foot. To my surprise, the Snow feels more like cornstarch, and my foot settles down through it. My following foot follows, and I begin to think about the effects of expectations.
Expectations stiffened my body as I reached down toward the Snow. Expectations got me wondering about how cold my feet would feel as I walked to the screen house in the frozen Snow. Expectations kept me from noticing how warn the air was.
Today, I will be on the lookout for the effects of expectations.
This morning I found a Phoebe nest waiting for me on the Eastern deck. It was a large one that had been built up under the roof ridge on the East peek of the cabin. We have seen the Squirrels knocking these nests down before, so it was not surprising, but it got me thinking about the connection between Phoebe's and Squirrel.
Phoebes comes back year after year nesting close to and sometimes in the nests they built the year before. They used this one last Summer. Since we have seen Squirrel knocking the nests down in past years, I'm sure it will not be a new experience for Phoebe to show up this Spring and find the nest displaced.
Phoebe builds and Squirrel knocks down, and Phoebe builds again. It's part of how they live together. If Phoebe got angry or resentful about having to rebuild, it would simply be a waist of her time. Anger won't rebuild the nest, but it might exhaust her, or keep her from building the nest as well as she might.
My culture invites me to think that if someone does something to me, like destroying my home, I should get angry and retaliate. I am asked to believe that my retaliation brings some kind of balance back to the world. This idea is not born out in my experience.
What I see with Phoebe and Squirrel is this. When Phoebe returns, she and her mate will build another nest, sing their songs, raise their young, and fly off in the Fall. Squirrel will knock that nest down getting from it what she needs, or she won't. Whatever happens with Squirrel, Phoebe will return to build and sing and fly away again. That seems like balance to me.
Owl flew silently in front of me this morning. She flew South to North, across the pond, and out of site. For me, North is a reminder of care and love and support.
Owl reminds me that there is always abundant care and love and support available if I ask for it, and stay open to what I receive.
Three Squirrels ran single file down Pine tree, plowing through the Snow that was stuck to the tree trunk by last night's storm. They turned at the bottom and ran back up, then down again. On this second decent the lead Squirrel veered sharply Eastward, onto a branch. I noticed that the end of the branch hung alone in the air, not close to any other trees. I watched curiously, wondering what would happen when the Squirrels reached the end of the branch with nowhere else to go. What happened next stunned me.
When the lead Squirrel reached the end of the branch, she, without hesitation, flipped under the branch and ran, full speed and upside down, under the others and back to the main trunk. From there she ran down to ground. As I considered what I was seeing, and the pronouns I was assigning to the characters in the scene, it occurred to me that I didn't actually know if the lead Squirrel was female. Than I wondered how long it might take for me to become familiar enough with my Squirrel cousins to be able to discern their sex just by looking at them.
Right now in my life all Squirrels look alike, but I know that this is an illusion created by my lack of familiarity. I don't know Squirrels well enough. That's why I can't recognize their uniquenesses. My strangerness blends them all together into a single group of indistinguishable beings. Knowing this is an effect of my perception gets me wondering what else I am missing as I sit in this moment. Looking around, what can I not see because I have not taken the time to become more familiar with what is right in front of me?
I know from school why the morning light appears blue. I know that that things I am looking at are not blue, they just appear that way because of how my eyes receive light. In this way, what I see is a reflection of me. Similarly, what I taste and touch, feel and hear are all reflections of my sensing systems, thoughts, expectations, and experiences.
Today, I plan to pay specific attention to how the outside world reflects me, and how my expectations form what I experience.
The morning Moon shines in the West as it travels along its path, greeting the rising Sun in the East. In that moment I feel closely connected to the Moon; our close celestial companion. In that moment, it seems I am more connected to the Moon than the Sun. Moon and I travel together as we circle the Sun.
This gets me thinking about the subtle interdependencies I experience all the time. How caring and relying and giving and taking create balances in my life. Balances re-balance as life's needs change. Moon gets me thinking about what I need now and what I can give back. Thank you Moon for all you bring to my life.
A Mob of Crows had gathered in the Northern woods. Their caws greeted me as a walked outside this morning. From the sound of it, there were Jays mixed among them, though I only caught glimpses of any of the actual birds.
Then they all fell silent. So long and complete was their silence, that I pondered for a moment whether they had somehow flown off without my noticing. Then I heard another Mob, far off in the Northwest. Was the Northern Mob listening?
Eventually the chain of caws erupted again strengthening my curiosity. How did the Northern mob know to listen? Could they her the further mob over their own calls? Or were their calls a response to calls I had missed?
I am left to ponder there question, grateful for having heard their familiar banter. I wonder what questions the rest of my day will bring?
“Red in the Morning, Sailors take warning.” Before I got out of the Eastern door this morning, I could see the gorgeous deep red Sunrise unfolding. As I sat drinking it in, a was distracted by the old sailor's warning. The beauty of the sky forecast unsettled weather to come. Deep reds blazed into liquid oranges, then I thought about how the weather might effect my day. When my attention returned to the Sunrise, I noticed I had missed something. The reds where less intense. The oranges were fading. The mounting Sun was taking over, brightening everything, and diminishing the intensity of the early morning firestorm. My thoughts about what might be blocked my ability to take in what actually was. How powerful, the seduction of the future? How would my attention to the present have to change so that I might sustain my focus?
There is a distinct sound that Squirrel makes when she is scampering up a tree trunk. That's what is sounded like this morning as the breeze started to bend the ice laden branches in the woods. The tree crinkle started in the Northeast. The it jumped to a spot just South of me. It was as if a whole gathering of Squirrels had leapt from the North woods across the Cabin and landed in the Southern woods.
I have never herd this tree crinkle before, and I was struck by the infinite variety of sounds Wind and Tree can make. I am grateful I was there to listen. I wonder what I might hear next?
To say that my toe healed isn't really accurate. What was my toe, that froze that cold December night, is gone. It has slowly been replaced by a new toe that is pink and full of feeling. Now I start the process of getting it used to being without coverings.
I look at my foot and am grateful that I have five toes. I am also grateful for all that my toes can do, and all my foot can do. Then I notice all my ankle and leg can do, and so on as I start to take in all that is possible with a body that is still pretty capable.
I also realize how easy it is for me to forget to notice all my body is doing as I move through my day. Why is it so easy for me to forget to notice and be grateful? I wonder how slowly I would have to move through my day in order to notice and be grateful for all I have?
As I settle down to breath, I take in what I see. I notice, about ten yards off, just West of the Apple tree there is a line of tracks running North to South. From where I sit, I can tell it is a slender trail of almost continuous tracks.
I know right away who it is. It is Deer. I know because this is the trail that Deer always takes.
But does Deer experience it as the same? Does Deer notice that the Snow is not exactly like any Snow that has fallen before? Does Deer notice that this exact combination of light and Wind and cold has never happened before? Is anything ever “the same” for Deer?
Does my expectation of the possibility of sameness blind me to what is unfolding in front of me?
As I sit and listen to the Bird song, I wonder if it compels me because of its generosity?
The Snow falls silently in the twilight of morning. It piles up, now three inches deep. It gets me thinking about tracks. A trail of tracks links back to the origins of everything and forward to the person who left them. When I find a trail, it is the intersection of me and them. I wonder who I will intersect with today?