Life continues; a new cycle begins. It’s the shortest day of the year. Imagine our ancestors noting the the diminishing of light and wondering anxiously if the sun would return…and it does! We are so used to “knowing” all this that we can grow so jaded and incapable of surprise and awe. But why not retain the ability to be surprised, delighted, bowled over by the wonder of Life?! And also to include Death in that cycle. One of my favorite passages from Walt Whitman (from Leaves of Grass, “Song of Myself”):
“What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?
They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it,
And ceas’d the moment life appear’d.
All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.”
Looking through my files of photos, I found two that I remember as being surprising moments of serendipity, both of which are of birds. Birds are surprising. They alight and fly off at their own whim, so catching one on camera is a gift. The first shot is one I took with the little Lumix when a hawk landed in the maple tree right outside my bedroom window. To have this elegant wild predator just a few feet from my hidden wide-eyed face was a real treat. I had to take the shot through a dirty window, but still…
This second shot is one I took the first time I went to a State Park with my brand new Canon Rebel T3i in hand. Sandhill cranes were flying overhead, and I took a chance that perhaps with this new camera, I would actually get a clear image.
Because today was our day off from working at Old World Wisconsin, Steve & I decided to take a walk at Vernon State Wildlife Refuge. This marshy wetland is a favorite place to visit in all the seasons to see the changes in flora and fauna. I think the last time I posted pictures, it was November. Today, it was sunny, 78 degrees and very breezy. The Canada geese had goslings following them everywhere. The Sandhill cranes were nesting. We saw a group of 3 flying in formation. Why three? No idea. We saw lots of red-winged blackbirds pairing up, swallows, American gold finches, a snowy egret and two new ones to me that I had to look up: the yellow-headed blackbird and the rose-breasted grosbeak.
Sitting on the bank of the river looking at the puffy cumulus clouds streaming sunlight through their crisp edges brought me to tears. It seems to me that the world is an absolute miracle, every day, every moment, but usually, the miracle that strikes us is that we finally slowed down long enough to see it. I wonder about how to arrange my life to put more of this experience in. Perhaps the trick is simply to arrange it so that I’m not shutting most of it out.
Enjoy the miracle of life!
All of our snow seems to be falling on Europe this year, so we’re going to seize the opportunity to do some spring hiking in February! “Let’s get while the gettin’s good!”, as they say. (They who? Not really sure who says this any more…)
Here are some early spring photos from my walks this weekend:
Enjoy the white stuff, my friends across the pond! I’m going mud walking!