Field Notes: Fall 2021
Second annual Gentian Day
While searching for a stick to throw for Asha, I came upon some purple flowers. They looked like a cluster of buds about to open and I made a mental note to return in a few days to see what they looked like once they opened. Then I learned that these flowers – Closed Gentian (Gentiana clausa) – weren’t buds about to open, but rather flowers in full bloom.
That was two years ago on the fall equinox.
Each September we return to visit the flowers-that-looked-like-buds to celebrate our private Gentian Day. A day to rejoice that blooming takes many forms – and happens right on time.
Sitting with tea and Tang
I carry binoculars and a thermos of tea on an afternoon walk with Asha to the serene beaver pond. The October sun has already dropped behind the trees, casting the bridge and pond in shade. A few brown birds flit among the cattails. Water trickles through the abandoned beaver dam.
I sip the tea and my thoughts drift back 40+ years, across 7000 miles and an ocean.
As a child, I often sat down on a rock about halfway up the hill on my walk home from school and enjoyed the snack and Tang I’d saved from lunch. Then I closed my lunchbox, picked up my shoulder bag, heavy with homework and good-girl-ness, and continued home.
I want to ask my 10-year-old self what prompted this ritual, why she chose this particular spot, whether the refreshments were an excuse to sit alone awhile, what thoughts drifted through her young mind.
I want to thank her for tending her soul in this way.
I sit with my eyes closed on a rock in the middle of a spruce grove listening. Occasionally I open one eye to check on Asha who is sitting nearby, moving her head from time to time as she too responds to sounds.
Some sounds I recognize and can express as letters and words. Chick-a-dee-dee-dee. Chick-a-dee-dee-dee.
Others come to me as lines.
It’s hard to listen without wanting to name, to understand their source.
As I let go of this desire or need or habit, I start to hear music.
Not alone: Companions in the woods
I thought about inviting a friend to walk with Asha and me this morning, then realized I wanted to walk without human company. I almost wrote “I wanted to walk alone,” but I wasn’t alone. Not with Asha, trees, birds, chipmunks, flowers, ferns, mushrooms and so many other companions from this more-than-human world. Not with my sister’s presence on this grief anniversary as I thought about the different woods we’ve walked in together – in our early years and in her last years.
Learning a new language: Then and now
On the first day of ninth grade, I walked home with my friend Tina, exuberantly practicing our newly learnt German vocabulary. As I proclaimed “Das ist die Kreide!” I sensed a door opening.
Today I press my ear against the cold bark of an American Beech, close my eyes and listen, wanting to learn the unfamiliar language of the woods. I wait for another door to open.
You may also like:
Late Fall 2021 – I almost said; Letter to myself after reading Hafiz; First snow
Summer 2021 – Stretching lessons; No stepping stones; A red-feathered lesson in priorities
Spring 2021 – A change within; How I spent the morning; Glide; The time it takes; A glimpse
Winter 2020/2021 – Circle in the snow; Snow: Beyond shoveling; Returning
Fall 2020 – On a path; Treasure; November