The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
— Wendell Berry
Just when you think Winter has broken your heart, Spring asserts herself and repairs it with sunshine and warmth. Thank goodness! Spring completely turned my head yesterday and sent me spinning. My spirit was soaring all day. I wanted to hug the whole world and sing with the birds. I couldn’t bear to be inside, so I went for a long walk. The sidewalks have been icy the past few weeks, so I haven’t been out on my route for a while. I encountered several neigbors on the way and we were all just smiling, even while we were talking about the latest outrageous actions of our local government. The transformation has begun and I’m telling you: I’m smitten. We all are.
It`s only March though, and this is Michigan, so I had to remind myself not to lose my head completely, and though I was tempted, I didn’t put the snow shovel away just yet. We’ll most likely have at least one more major snow storm; last year we got two feet in April. Winter doesn’t give up easily here. We have a long way to go, but we’re headed in the right direction and that makes me giddy.
Friday I saw a robin building a nest in the juniper bush along the driveway and yesterday the buds on the magnolia tree down the street were standing proud on the branches. A local farm posted on Facebook this week that they have started sap collection, and soon they’ll be making luscious maple syrup for sale in the local shops. When I was a kid there were buckets on all the maple trees around town, and my friends and I could reach in and break off a hunk of the sweet ice inside and eat it like a popsicle.
The ice cream/burger stand opened for the season Friday and people stood in their parkas and boots and waited in line for their first delicious shake or cone since it closed last September. When I was out filling the bird feeders I saw skunk scat on the patio, and while Pepe Le Pew and his ilk are not my favorite neighbors, knowing that they’re out of hibernation makes my heart lighter. The flowers in the picture above came from the grocery store, but their cousins will be poking their green heads through the soil in my flowerbeds in 6 weeks or so.
I expect to see Clover, the bunny who lives under the big cedar in the backyard any day, and soon I might get a glimpse of this year’s babies. The lilac bushes in the backyard are sporting ever so tiny green leaf buds. The promise of new life is everywhere.
It’s back! Life. Color. Sound. I can’t get enough of it. It’s intoxicating!
Many times in my life I’ve felt left out. I’ve lived a somewhat unconventional life, and I often have felt out of step with the current culture, even with my friends sometimes.
But I have always belonged with nature; with the wild things.
I fit in with the animals, who only want attention and love and don’t care who I am or what I have to offer other than a scratch under the neck or a nice long pet on their silky soft heads.
I fit in at the river, with the herons and the turtles. I fit in at the lake, on the sand and in the clean blue water, looking for shells and watching the sunset. I fit in anywhere there are trees. Or flowers. Or thunder. When I put seed in the feeders the chickadees say hello and thank you! They don’t need to know anything about me. They don’t care how I’ve lived my life. They take what I have to offer and it’s enough.
I love people – I have good friends and I enjoy their company. I need people – I wouldn’t make it as a hermit. Life with humans sometimes requires too much of me, though, so I take some time away and go to the lake, or the river, or the forest. I walk and breathe and hear the birds and see a bunny or a young deer, and my battered psyche and tender heart are instantly rejuvenated, restored. I smell the green leaves and the freshness of the wind off the lake and I’m renewed.
Winter, to me, is starvation. Six to seven months of drudgery and death. No color. No life. It’s prison. Deprivation. My soul is on life-support by March every year without the wild things to sustain me.
And then comes rebirth! It’s starting and it’ll be complete in a couple of months. I’m so grateful I could cry. But I’ll sing instead: a lively tune about life and color and renewal.
Welcome Spring. You got here just in time.