Nothing Lasts Forever but the Earth and Sky

Wow. I got NOTHING to write that’s remotely “fantabulous.” Or maybe everything is so fantabulous that it is just part of the daily parade of wonder (I suspect the second).

It seems like everybody is struggling with the present moment and striving to know the future. This morning, as I made my coffee, I thought that if Trump wins, my friend’s plan that we all go to Patagonia (I would love that) isn’t very practical for me because of my family and the fact that I can only get a 3 month visa. So, I’ve decided to ignore the whole thing and focus on the fantabulous stuff that’s not going anywhere.

24 Tao Te Ching

He who stands on tiptoe is not steady
He who strides cannot maintain the pace.
He who makes a show is not enlightened.
He who is self-righteous is not respected.
He who boasts achieves nothing.
He who brags will not endure.
According to followers of the Tao,
“These are extra food and unnecessary baggage.”
They do not bring happiness.
Therefore followers of the Tao avoid them.

Lao Tzu

The other evening I took Bear to the Refuge. There were people with dogs (leashed dogs, bless their owners) so Bear and I turned to take a different road. Just as we turned, a Northern Harrier hawk flew low over us and landed in some willow trees along the trail we were about to take. We hadn’t walked far before I smelled dead animal and soon the hawk, disturbed by us, took flight in front of me. He joined his mate who was perched in a dead tree beside an abandoned homestead across the highway (well, it’s called a highway…). Bear and I soon passed the smell.

Storms were coming over the San Juans and from the trail we were on, we were close to the mountains, nothing between us. I thought to take a photo but I felt more like looking at it than photographing it. The hawks waited in the tree, knowing, I guess, that Bear and I would have to turn around. We got back to Bella and onto the highway just as the storm broke loose, washing my windows and my car.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2020/08/31/rdp-monday-fantabulous/

Medicine

“Many are the stories in the naked city.” Same with the naked Big Empty. Today temperatures remained almost Bear comfortable meaning that The Big Empty was comfortable at midday, my favorite time to go out. At that time of day, my brain goes on walkabout, and all I can really do is physical stuff. It’s not the prettiest time of day or even the most interesting, but you know… I took Teddy as it was his turn.

I love nature for nine million reasons including my conviction that it loves me. “Come on,” it says. “You know you want to.”

Midday is a good time to watch raptors and the other birds at the Refuge are pretty active then, too. It’s not the time of day to see mammals. Coyotes and cougars are crepuscular (great word, isn’t it!) and Teddy pointed out a lot of carnivore scat today. Whose? Farm dogs? Coyote? No idea. It will be easier for me to tell when it’s dried out and the contents revealed.

Today I saw two hawks. The Harris Hawk flew low about 50 yards in front of us and when I caught up to the spot where his flight had passed the road I saw he’d dropped his lunch. My best guess is that he’d grabbed the mouse, taken flight and something came up behind him. It could have been one of the Red Tail hawks I see often.

Poor hawk…

Later, towards the end of the walk, just passing the marsh with the small walking loop around it, I heard a sudden commotion among the Red-winged and Yellow-headed blackbirds who call it home. I looked over at the racket and saw the male Red-tail hawk was flying low over the marsh causing the blackbirds to send up the alarm.

At one point in our walk, Teddy (who’s only about 18 inches tall at his highest point) ducked. I saw a small black and white duck flying low over the trail in front of us where Teddy was walking. Cracked me up that Teddy literally DUCKED (c’mon, laugh, you know you want to). I don’t know what the duck was; possibly a Coot.

There were people out there today, too. An elderly couple sat at a picnic table then took off each in their own cars. As he passed Teddy and me, the man rolled down his window, “Isn’t this great?”

“Yeah. It’s not hot, it’s beautiful.”

“Right? And the goddamned wind isn’t blow 60 mph. Have fun!” He waved.

“Have a great day,” I said, still feeling that COVID-19/we’re all isolated tug at my heart (and eyes)

Early in the walk, I had noticed a strange looking plant that was hit by frost last night. What could it be? I saw more of them as I went along, and figured it out.

Mystery plant

Here’s the thing about nature. Even if you walk the same 1 1/2 or 2 miles on the same road every single day, and you THINK you see things you’ve seen before, you really haven’t seen anything before. I had never seen milkweed in its “baby” stage before, but I’ve “known” milkweed since I was a toddler. Now I can look forward to the beautiful flowers, the arrival of Monarch Butterflies and all that comes with this amazing plant.

The familiar things — Canada geese, for example — anchor you. They’re like old friends at a party full of strangers. Then you get more comfortable at the party, more curious about the strangers and you see more. I’ve only seen Northern Harrier hawks twice (to know it).

The yellow-headed blackbird is found all over the U.S. EXCEPT in the part of California where I lived so long and hiked so much. Wetlands? I’ve never spent time in this landscape.

The sky tells me we will get rain in a couple of days. Weather.com agrees with the sky.

Free to study Nature’s mysteries,
He breathes in the divine;
His spirit grounded in Truth,
Sure of himself, he casts off all restraint.
Wide sweep the winds of Heaven,
Grey loom the distant hills,
And with true strength is
Creation spread before him;
He beckons sun, moon and stars,
And washes his feet in the stream where rises the sun.

by Sikong Tu

Nature Has the Last Word and It’s Not Always Nice

Flowers don’t cry. One of the true and unromantic wonders of nature is that plants aren’t going around wearing emotions all over the place. When Faith, the Aussie pumpkin, was compelled to surrender to a killing frost, she did it with no fanfare. This is not to say the resultant limp leaves and black, lifeless stems weren’t sad to me. They were. I’d hoped for a late fall and the chance for at least one of Faith’s fruits to mature, but what Faith did accomplish I have here on my table.

Faith, the Aussie Pumpkin

Many people find nature “relaxing.” I think (for me anyway) it’s movement in nature that’s relaxing. I don’t think nature is doing its thing thinking, “I’m so beautiful! I will inspire everyone!” It’s just part of human nature to seek respite from the human grind, human nature to experience inspiration. Nature itself is constant struggle. There is a LOT of drama out there.

This time last year I was crossing the golf course and happened on the remains of a red tail hawk. I could read the story just from the strewn feathers. Fox. The moment of their intersection would have been pretty dramatic, and maybe the hawk had screeched. At that moment, he was after food, maybe digging worms out of the ground, maybe a mouse or bunny was scurrying along the grass, and the hawk dived just as the fox was preparing to spring.

As it happens, I later met a guy who was there to see it. I’d read the story right.

One of the great things of hiking in the morning on dusty trails or on snowy days is the stories written on the ground. It’s a constant reminder that things out there are not all sweetness and light. It’s truly kill or be killed, and yet, for us humans — and maybe other creatures — there is the quality of wonderment, like last December when I realized my walks were shadowed by a small herd of mule deer. Over the next few days, I saw that they were curious about me. The watcher was being watched. I wondered what questions were going through their minds.

“My” deer the day they decided to come out and look at me. The does were openly curious; the buck was ready to protect them.

I thought they were thinking, “Friend or foe?” There came a day when one of the does came within 20 yards of me and continued approaching. I held Bear and said to the doe, “I’m not your friend. I’m really not your friend. Go back.” As if she understood me (though I think it was just my voice that did it), she turned and went back to the herd. The truth is I WAS her friend. I loved this little herd of deer very much (I confess I told them, too, both with my voice and in sign) and went out to see them every day. Even Bear had learned to sit quietly when the deer were in sight.

Similar moments have happened between me and other wild animals. Curiosity seems to be a trait of sentient beings everywhere. Foxes, coyotes, hawks, and certainly ravens have all wanted to know what was going on with me and my dogs.

I haven’t been out there in nearly a month since I sprained my foot — a mid-foot sprain, nasty. Things were moving in the right direction until I reinjured my foot somehow in the night, so I’m in pain again. Sprains take a long time to heal and they are easily re-injured. I know that. A mid foot sprain is very vulnerable and maybe I was stupid not to get the big boot and all that. I don’t know. But it’s my right foot, and I need to be able to drive. Maybe my values are backward. Maybe I should have cancelled my life and done that. It’s nature, after all, my body is nature as much as is a tree or an Aussie pumpkin, a vulnerable red tail, or a curious doe. I don’t know about the existence of “will” in non-human beings, but I know mine is formidable and not always my best friend. It’s been three weeks since I last re-injured it. I suppose I have now to start all over again with the recovery and rehab. Well, with no events planned after this weekend, maybe it won’t be so difficult.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/10/24/ragtag-daily-prompt-thursday-a-flower-cried/