If you are a regular follower here, you already know that almost every morning of the week, four seasons round, I am forced to walk in the Maine woods. Emma, and Holly, two 8 year-old golden retrievers, insist that I do this. Should I attempt to ignore them, they come to wherever I am and stare at the side of my head. It soon becomes unbearable, a feeling of laser-vision from big brown eyes that bore into me....until I finally relent and put my jacket on, or pick-up a walking-stick and head out the door. It is more a ritual than merely a routine. And, if you love dogs, you know that having a predictable rhythm in their day is very important to them.
So, come rain or shine, snow or mosquitoes, there we are treading lightly on trails that intersect a large-ish block of un-trammeled northern forest. The woods have a rhythm too. It has more to do with their seasonal cycles than the weather on a given day, but it is utterly predictable and very enjoyable as it progresses through the year. We are now in the period when spring has begun to morph into summer....not really there yet, but now more the latter than the former, to be sure. The delicate yellow-greens of new leaves have started to become darker and more towards the 'iron' greens of high summer, but the leaves are still soft to the touch.
Flowers are in their second stage now, the trillium is gone-by, and there is a plethora of tiny star-shaped flowers, mosses are burgeoning, and this year the ferns are blasting off for the moon. Perhaps the wet and cool spring set them up for such growth, but I passed some today that are shoulder high and still growing. The bug season, has, of course, taken-off too. Depending on the time of day, how humid and warm it is, the black flies and the mosquitoes are at bumper crop levels this year. The streams are running well, which is great for the black flies, since they lay their eggs on rocks in running water...and there are large pools of standing water in the depths of the woods, which is a natural paradise for the muzzies.
Fortunately, I just found an article on DEET that indicated it is not the chemical disaster that most of us have felt it was. Research has proven that it is actually much more benign than I would have guessed. So, now I can apply it as I have all along...and just not feel as self-destructive and guilty as I did. Good for me, bad for the hungry insects who need my blood. Boo hoo.
As I was walking today, it occurred to me how eminently 'sane' nature is. Not only is it beautiful and pure in its intent to simply get on with its process of living and constantly becoming...but it all just seems to make sense. I listened to a veritable cacophony of song-birds, all of them trilling, warbling, and tweeting with obvious intent. And, while we might imagine they do it because it sounds nice, the truth is I was hearing a battle for breeding territories. All the "Hey, here I am," and the "This acre is mine," calls are according to a firm and ancient ritualized understanding of how they will propagate and who will do what and where they'll do it. I was hearing not just the thrushes melodic calls; I was hearing their entire history as a species speaking to me through their DNA. A bird of a particular species has an indistinguishable call from every other bird of that species. Otherwise the whole system of recognition and establishing breeding and nesting territories would break down. We crave being unique individuals....while they are drawn to be simply a perfect example of what they are. I love it.
I was going to contrast this green world of perfection with the folly that goes on beyond it...out here in the not so real world. But, it doesn't feel like I want to do that anymore. Somehow it would be wrong to mention the parade of clowns who are now posturing for an opportunity to lead us. It doesn't matter that the entire shootin' match is getting progressively weirder. I want the taste of perfection that awaits me each morning to maintain some of its separation from all of this. I almost don't think I could climb into my car at the edge of the woods, and drive straight to Wal-Mart...without having an experience that would approach some kind of mental crisis. And, it is hard to accept that I spend almost all of my waking reality in the weird world, and not the one where absolutely everything is perfect and makes complete sense.
Go figure, eh.