(listening time: 5:35 minutes)
“I wonder where the geese went,” I say to my puppy Asha who is also staring out at the beaver pond. I like to think she remembers the birds who honked and honked the day we first saw them.
I delight in their arrival, a welcome sign of spring, but I haven’t seen the Canada Geese for some days now.
For several springs a pair of geese arrived and stayed. I’d look for the female nesting on one of the beaver lodge mounds. And then one day, I’d see fuzzy goslings swimming between their parents, one leading the way, one protecting from behind. They’d eventually waddle a half mile down the road to my neighbors’ pond where they have better access to green grass. Over the course of the summer, their numbers would dwindle. Two summers ago, I watched the family grow smaller until one day there was a lone adolescent on the pond.
Last year I looked for the geese all spring and summer, but none settled on the pond, so when I saw a pair of geese several days in a row, I had hopes that they were staying.
As Asha and I continue on our walk, I consider where the geese might have gone. Perhaps they are camouflaged by the mud and dry cattails. The water level is the lowest I’ve ever seen it and there is more mud than water, so perhaps they have flown to a more inviting pond. Perhaps there is another explanation.
I like not knowing what has happened because this not-knowing, this wondering, inspires wonder. And so I start to wonder about wonder.
Wonder. A noun. A delight in the mysteries. An appreciation of the intricacies of the natural world. A respect for the unknown.
There is so much to inspire wonder.
That Canada Geese – and Great Blue Herons and Red-winged Blackbirds and all the other birds – find their way each year.
That there are so very many species of birds with their unique habits.
That the seasons turn and offer their particular joys.
Wonder. A verb. To be curious about. A questioning. An openness.
There is so much to wonder about.
Is one of these geese the lone adolescent I saw two years ago?
Why is it that only one pair of geese nests on the beaver pond, and down the road I see four Great Blue Heron’s nests clustered near each other in the treetops?
Why is the water level in the beaver pond so low? Is it the drought? Has something happened upstream?
When will the Red-winged Blackbirds return?
I like letting questions surface, mulling them over and then letting them go and playing with the next question that bubbles up. I don’t need answers. The not-knowing fills me with a sense of wonder. The mysteries open my heart, deepen my awe and respect for the intricacies and beauty of the natural world.
As I ponder this not-knowing and its connection to wonder, I realize that sometimes it’s the knowing, or knowing just enough, that inspires or deepens wonder.
Like indigo. When I pulled fabric out of an indigo dye bath and watched it change from yellow to blue, it was so magical. Amazed and intrigued, I read up on indigo and was even more fascinated. The way dye is extracted from the plant leaves. That a deep blue is so colorfast it can last for centuries. Other details have faded, but not the memory that learning more added to, rather than detracted from, my sense of wonder.
The old jacquard loom I saw at the now closed museum in Lowell, Massachusetts, also comes to mind. I’d read about these, but never seen one before and was amazed by all the moving parts. When a guide explained how it worked, I marveled even more at this loom, both similar and different from my floor looms.
These musings have kept me busy for most of the walk. As Asha and I round the last corner and our house comes into view, I let it all settle in – the verb, the noun, the not-knowing, the knowing. This is not the final word on wonder (if that even exists). I’ll pick up my wonderings on another walk.
Today it is enough to know this: I need wonder. I need the mystery, the not-knowing, the questions, the open heart and mind, the awe, the connection to this vast, intricate universe. This is a lot and it is enough.