I can contemplate peace endlessly and never know it as much as when it takes me by surprise.
It’s a beech tree in a wild blueberry patch at the east side of the front yard. The tree and I have a long history, as with everything in the picture. Everything. Long. Deep. Immersive relationship history. Yet on this mid-June morning, they all greeted me as if for the first time. I’ll just share the new part of the history that began at that moment.
I don’t feel that there is anything especially fantastic about what I saw. It was the peace it wrought in me, and I’ll never be able to share that except as a mention, with this souvenir of it.
It was damned silly of me to rush back into the house for the camera. When I got back out there, the light had changed, as rising suns do, and kept changing by the second, and none of it was as beautiful as when I first saw it.
This picture can never be more than a souvenir, especially because it is not a picture of the peace that caught me by surprise when that light and its verdant subjects first poured themselves upon me, into me.
How foolish to run for a camera instead of sinking deeper into the blessing. I struggled for a picture worth keeping. I did not find it, so I created a couple of them, and found peace in seeking them, a peace that comes from joining nature in creativity, another kind of immersion. With the camera, I studied the scene, ingested it, digested it, and merged with it.
These are not images of what was there. They are images I created, using what was there, plus the camera, plus my notions applied digitally by computer, and some luck, I hope. They are not pictures of nature. They are pictures created by combination of my nature with what was there.
There’s peace in that process, too. Maybe it wasn’t so silly. I’m on a silly fence about it.
I don’t know how many images I deleted before deciding to save this second one.
Chasing after the right picture of what the light was doing was like herding light beams. But I liked what happened here, and decided it was enough that I liked what nature and I had played with together. Click for the full screen image.
When I consider the home situation of billions of people compared to mine — probably most of the billions in the world — my body wants to go limp and cry at the grace of the gift of the life I’ve been given. It’s why I call the scent of balsam fir needles “the aroma of gratitude.” It reminds me what is. The tears are from shame for so commonly forgetting.
The next day, not as early in the morning, around 10 AM, I looked out the window toward that same area. The lawn may seem terribly in need of mowing, but that is an intentional horticultural experiment. Really. I enjoy mowing. I’m letting it grow in an effort to address a couple of problems that should be solved after mowing. But all the grasses waving in the breezes with the wildflowers do have a charm you don’t get from a mowed lawn.
I saw this thing and thought, “There’s that ground hog again.”
Uh. No. Not a ground hog. In fact, it’s something that a ground hog (the ones around here sometimes call themselves woodchucks) would not want to see. A fox. That’s the famous wild blueberry patch and its overseeing beech tree.
Balsamea has always had foxes. I’ve seen one here only once in 16 years, including a couple of thousand miles trod in these woods. I know they are here because I see their little fox feet imprinting themselves in the snow every year, especially when it’s a good year for rabbits.
The one fox that I saw before was standing in the driveway, in silhouette against a setting sun. Fortunately, I did not have the camera, so we stood watching each other silently for a long time. It was a great picture, and I remember it as well as if I had a digital or film copy of it. The peace we shared was more memorable than any image can make. The peace is not a memory. It is an experience of fox and me immersed in each other’s attention. They don’t make cameras for that except in the soul.
I noticed that this surprise fox (aren’t they all surprises?) was immersed in something there in the ground. Ants, I suspect. It was so engrossed that I hoped to get pictures. From the southeast corner of the house, I stayed out of sight and held the camera stuck out around the corner “just so” to get what shots I could.
The critter heard the camera’s soft click just enough to be curious about it for a second, then it went back to its face buried in the weeds. After tiring of that, I called to the fox in a whisper.
“Psst! This way!” That did it.
At first glance its face looked like a cat. It was less than thirty feet from me.
I had never been this close to a fox in my life. Or to any mammal in the wild bigger than a skunk. Yeah, go figure. The closest I got was to a skunk. It was on a cool night in the fall of 2017 on Birdsong Loop in the Balsamea trail network.
The lighting is a combination of my headlamp, a little flashlight, and the camera flash. The striped furry thing ignored it and me, until, as with the fox, I asked for its attention, while watching carefully from about fifteen feet away for signs of its intentions. I know. Twenty feet is safer. I watched.
It is showing no intention of anything at all here except curiosity, as far as I know. I thanked the skunk for the visit and the poses, then backed away and went around Birdsong Loop in the other direction.
So the fox looked over its shoulder and didn’t see anything but a couple of hands sticking out around the corner holding a camera. Back to its business it went, until I asked for another pose. And another. (Click the pix for full screen versions.)
WordPress has managed to make creating a post so ridiculously fraught with glitches and annoyances that I’m not sure how much more I can give it. There’s always something more important I should be doing anyway. Like immersion in nature instead of talking about it. I don’t know. Another fence to sit on.
Today I return to regular mowing, something I enjoy at least as much as blogging.
Still, I’m glad for the chance to share the blessings of peace granted me here. There is a special enhancement that comes from sharing them. I’m nicer to be with when I am alone, but I’m still thinking of you.
~ ~ ~
Hey, speaking of sharing, I want to toss something out to you that amazes me. It is the incredible voice and beautiful song of Andra Day in Rise Up.
If we don’t rise up in defense of democracy, it is gone. It is already fallen. It needs rescue, not just support.
That’s not going to happen if we don’t do it together. It will not. My optimistic take on it is that it can happen, and we know how to make it happen. Now to just do it.
She sings, “All we need is hope, and for that we have each other.”
We’ve got to rise up.