|Gazing Upward, Gazing inward
One of the many blessings in my life is the opportunity to sit most mornings on my deck and go within while looking at the physical world around me. This is a form of meditation that gifts me with a terrific way to begin a day. It also presents me with great opportunity to connect with some of my relatives. Today it may be the grasshopper and the sycamore tree, tomorrow the tree frog and the sun in the sky.
I suppose it is a side effect of Hurricane Dorian. This morning while gazing at the mostly clear sky, there is the occasional cloud moving across from north to south. This is quite unusual and I suppose it is a result of the counter clockwise movement of the strong winds several hundred miles to our east and north.
One cloud is a medium sized puff ball of white edges surrounding a dark and foreboding center. Someone down the pike may see a brief shower this morning. Another wisp of a cloud scampers across the sky, occupying the middle of my view, framed by the red maple on the left and the pin oak on the right. Some days the clouds move so slowly as to cause doubt as to their movement at all. Today there is no such doubt, as this cloud seems to be in a hurry to get someplace.
Something draws my eyes to the left. There, movement in the top of the hickory. Staring, staring, ah, there it is, a gray squirrel, in the topmost branches of a 70 foot hickory. This tree is a part of a copse of trees, a white pine, a balsam fir, a white cedar, each reaching, reaching for the sun, trying to outcompete each other for the sustaining rays.
Soon I catch the movement of a second squirrel, near the first, apparently seeking his own cache of hickory nuts. I can’t help wonder why go so high to gather winter sustenance when the ground is covered by the fallen nuts. Perhaps it is simply a part of their original instructions, to reach as high as they might go, working in the sunshine, moving up, up until there is no path further.
A small flock of Canada geese lift off the soybean field a hundred yards to my right, climbing slowly as they pass through my field of vision. They are flying north this morning, still experience tells me that is only temporary. Their long flight of migration will take them the other way in the coming weeks. Now, they are gorging on fields of plenty, charging the system for the long journey.
A monarch butterfly rises up, flitting here and there. It draws my attention, and I begin to not only think, as I do every day, of the multitude of blessings in my life, but also question how much of this world will be available to my grandchildren. I am a believer in science and what it can teach us and do for us. I am, after all, a lifetime farmer, and that automatically means wearing many hats, including that of scientist. The climate crisis is a part of the world that we live in today, and still, the ramifications in the next decade or two can only be hypothesized. Good science, evidence mounting daily, tells us that we are facing a threat to our very existence. At a minimum, our grandkids face a world with fewer species, stronger and more frequent storms of all sorts, devastation of ecosystems around the globe, and unknown political fallout from this and more.
I am a seeker. I seek connection, ways to be of service, I seek harmony. Mostly, I am a seeker of balance. Some days balance looks like being productive while taking time to slow down and truly look about me. Some days balance means helping another, and taking time to read a few chapters for my own pleasure or enlightenment. I look at my own life, how my actions play a role in the current crisis, and strive to find balance here as well. I am more conscious of my choices, and still I go for a boat ride when I feel called to do so. I think 3 and 4 times before planning a trip, look deep inside and determine whether there is balance between the carbon footprint I create in so doing, versus the possible gain.
On so many levels, we live in challenging and uncertain times. We are certainly not the first generation to face grave difficulty. Still, this particular mix is our own. I pray for guidance, for balance, to know and to have a willingness to act truly on my own original instructions.
Steve Aman, The Wandering Bobcat