(listening time: 4:11 minutes)
Asha and I have returned once again to the familiar wooden bridge in the clearing.
I was drawn here today because beavers are building a dam under this bridge. With the resulting changes to the landscape, this spot feels like a microcosm for the world which is changing so rapidly. More than any other place along the trails Asha and I walk regularly, this pond-in-progress invites me to be with my emotions about the coronavirus pandemic.
While Asha sniffs, drinks and otherwise explores, I look out at the water, then kneel on the wooden planks and inspect the construction. I can see how the beavers have built up mud and brush. They’ve added some large logs since our last visit but most of their stick work is hidden beneath the bridge.
My walks teach me about change. The reassuring seasonal ones that I look for and count on. Right now it is early spring and I delight in the lengthening days, the appearance of green leaves and spring ephemerals. And then there are the unexpected changes, such as the tornado that roared through these woods three winters ago and felled many trees. Or the building of a beaver dam.
I feel saddened by the changes brought on by the beavers’ work. And that is why I’ve come today: to be with this sadness. To be with all that I miss. In this landscape and in my life.
I miss the soothing burbles of the stream that used to flow here. I miss throwing sticks for Asha and watching her jump across the stream to retrieve it. I miss sitting on the bridge, legs dangling over the edge. I miss crossing it and continuing down the now flooded trail along the satisfying loops Asha and I explored last year.
I miss borrowing books from the library and getting my hair cut. I miss welcoming people into my studio and chatting over cups of tea. I miss hugging my beloved, a nurse practitioner in a hospital. I miss the illusion of certainty. And I wrestle with the urge to dismiss my feelings in the face of all that so many others are suffering.
I miss what was …
At the same time, as I look around me, I’m curious about the new and different that is emerging. I have so many questions.
Will the beavers dam up the places where the water flows out?
Will the flooded trail become accessible again in the summer when there is less water?
Will Canada geese settle on this pond come spring? What other birds and animals will make a home here?
I find it harder to articulate my pandemic-related questions because they float in the realm of feelings, not words. I have no language to talk about some kind of “after”. And it’s too soon for answers.
We have lost – and are losing – so much.
So I stand on this little wooden bridge, accepting its invitation to be with the complexity of change and to feel what I feel.
Two great blue herons circle above us. Asha and I both look up and watch until they disappear behind the trees. Then Asha tells me it’s time to head home. I know I will be back soon.