DSCF0635An afternoon walk on a mist blanketed earth whispered to me of softening.  Despite the abundance of snow that melted last month, the earth has been getting dry here. The pockets of wood frog eggs we discovered in the upland puddle on our saturday walk had been clinging to the last bit of moisture there. Yesterday’s rain and today’s blanket of moisture have been most welcome. One could almost feel the earth sponging it up in great gulps of gratitude.

As I walked, I thought of the softening of the earth that must occur each spring in order for the greening to occur, the long thaw followed by the rains, preparing the soil for the seeds and sprouts of new growth and plumping the winter-hardened buds on trees. I wondered what might be softening in me, readying me to receive.DSCF0613

To be receptive, one must be open and soft. Closed-mindedness and hard-heartedness won’t allow seeds to settle and take root. However, a soft heart topped by a closed mind doesn’t make for a great seedbed either. Soft soil without rain becomes dust that can be easily picked up by the wind. Perhaps the fullness of the heart is also eroded in the presence of a closed mind.

I have been practicing letting things soak for awhile before I respond, if there is a response to be made at all. Being reactionary is seldom helpful…. to myself or to the situation. My emotions don’t always see the whole truth, and while I am learning to honor my feelings, wisdom is teaching me that I don’t always have to believe them. Introducing them to my mind provides a helpful balance. ‘Let’s look a bit closer’, she says.

DSCF0627Eventually, I arrived at the lake, where the draining continues in preparation for the coming summer. The mudflats grow larger day by day now, the streambed beginning to curve in its feminine path. Wanting to understand, I have learned that, of course, this isn’t really a lake, though it looks like one on the surface. It is instead an ‘impoundment’.  Like so many man-made bodies of water, it would probably be better to let it revert to the stream that naturally flows here, hidden beneath that surface. Letting it flow once a year like this could be a good practice, allowing the creek to disperse and assimilate any sediments trapped by the artificial damming. Like an annual menstrual flow, I suppose, shedding a lining that is not sustaining life after all. It is a sterile womb.

It remains disconcerting to my heart though, my instinctual/sensual self misled by the beauty of 4 days ago, reflections sublime in that still water. Hey, it wooed the wood ducks and mallards who courted there too, their own instincts confused. Perhaps some ancient part of me responded to that in my DNA, perceiving sustenance there in that beauty. Remember the landscape painting that humans cross culturally assess as beautiful?  One theory is we find to be beautiful a landscape that our ancestors understood would provide sustenance and safety.. open spaces interspersed with copses of trees and diverse greenery, a body of water, evidence of animal and bird life, and a path or river bank shoreline that extends invitingly. Be still, my heart.

Acceptance is a kind of a softening, preparing the way for understanding. It can be tricky, of course, to know when acceptance turns to resignation. When is surrender helpful… as in letting go … and when is it throwing the white flag of defeat?  The earth surrenders to the water, to the seed. It opens to the other and implantation occurs in her womb. A new life.. a new understanding… a new way …becomes.

I feel some embarrassment at my foolhardiness of two days ago, but I still am a bit confused about our place as creatures in this natural world. (That statement speaks loudly to me of our inherent sense of disconnection and alienation, that we cannot find our place exactly) When are the changes we make in a landscape an act of nature itself, like the actions of the ant or the beaver. If we alter a habitat, what is our response–ability. Do we continue to man-age ad infinitum or do we let the elements of place re-create, re-inhabit?  I can embrace the concept of gifting, I suppose, as a wise guide for that. When are our actions a gift?

I looked up the word, embarrass as a synonym for confusion, ‘To embarrass is to cause one to be ill at ease or uncomfortable, so that one’s usual judgment and presence of mind desert one’ . Indeed. Embracing humility, so close to the word humus, a human grows close to the earth, softening, remembering her place in the family of things.

It was a gray enough day with that mist blanketing the earth as it was, preparing her for something new. How appropriate, after all, this grayness. There are no black and white answers. But sometimes a clearing instead, a pathway opens between the head and the heart and there is light.



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