Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lessons in the Woods

I want to tell you what I've learned in the past few days.

First, I've learned that every moment is precious.  Just ask these sisters, who happen to be my mother and aunt. I don't have a large family, but I can tell you that hugs received from someone you're related to feel like they fit.

I've learned how precious our independence is to each of us.  My mother and I are learning that together, though in different ways. I'll respect her privacy, and tell my own story.

How sad I would be to lose my ability to see things like this:

Or this:
up close and personal. 

I had a little knee problem, which was fixed with a cortisone shot and a little TLC.  Minor stuff, but enough to teach me exactly how it feels to be held back when you want to walk in the woods, or plant a garden, or hold a goat kid, or load a kiln.  My problem is fixable; and it taught me to be more compassionate; some problems are not so easily dealt with.  We have to make changes, as our bodies age, but we need to make them in our own time and way.  There's a process of letting go, or holding on.  It's personal, and deeply rooted. Only we, ourselves, can know what's right, as the time teaches us.
I learned to continue to take care of this body, so I can continue to do those things that bring me peace as long as possible.

While I was walking in the woods this evening, after my teaching day was over, the goats were fed and watered, and my garden planted (I tried a walk the day before yesterday, before the magical cortisone shot, and it made me cry; walking in the woods is impossible with damaged knees), I learned another lesson.  It came to me as I was hoping, searching, praying for a glimpse of a Morel.  I've been looking for a few years, though fruitlessly.  I came upon a bounty of them several years ago, then once more about 5 years ago; I'm afraid I may have received my quota of Morels for this lifetime. But I digress.

This was the lesson: "See."

So I opened my eyes, and I saw this: thousands of May Apples. Deer droppings.  Infant Poison Ivy sparkling in the decomposing leaves, too small to bother anyone. Jack-in-the-Pulpits bowing their heads reverently. Cleavers dancing between the taller plants; Cleavers is a happy plant.
Wood gone to mulch, and the birth of tiny new plants in the rich earth it provided; the visible cycle of life.
Branches fell.  Birds sang.

Infant Garlic Mustard Basal Rosette

There was a post script to the lesson.  It was "Too many of us, too few of them"; this coming from the Garlic Mustard, referring to the Morels.  So the Garlic Mustard became our dinner tonight.  We made a lovely pesto from this invasive "pest".  It was delicious. And the phantom Morels remained invisible...until the time is right.

Hopefully sometime soon.

I'm blessed.

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