January 10, 2023

There are green trees, but they’re mostly white pine.


If you wish to know the divine, feel the wind on your face and the warm sun on your hand.



Again, today, I’m going to make the effort to listen to what Gaia has to say.  She talks all the time, but I’m usually too busy ruminating over this or that to really pay attention.  Today, though, I vow I will.

Waldo and I are out on the rail-trail; it’s cold with temps in the high twenties, colder when the wind blows.  The skies are blue, nary a cloud in sight, which ensures little heat will remain down near the ground where we are.  It’s cold enough that the skin on my face gets a little numb.  I wear gloves, but they aren’t thick enough to keep my fingers warm for very long.  I leave one hand in the pocket of the parka I’m wearing and the other I use to hold Waldo’s leash handle.  When the unpocketed hand starts to ache from the cold, I switch them out, coiling the frozen one in a ball.  This lasts for fifteen minutes or so, then I have to exchange them again.  Everything else stays quite toasty, buried as it is under down and cloth.

Waldo is prancing around, seemingly undisturbed by the chill.  In fact, he seems to like this temperature.  When it gets below 10, he’s prone to get ice between his toes, forcing him to stop and bite at his feet.  I’ve never seen him shiver, but I do watch for that and other signs that he might be uncomfortable, like lying down and not wanting to continue.  Today, he seems to be in his element, happily sniffing, picking up sticks, and roaming around, looking for God knows what.

Around us, the tawny, spindly landscape remains deathly still, except for the few dead, shriveled leaves that still tenaciously hang onto their branches as they shudder in the breeze.  Even the autumn olive has given up the ghost – the only green left is from the white pines that are intermingled with the rest of life and are now clearly visible through the naked remains of the other plants.  The tarmac is covered with the remnants of a skiff of snow from the last storm.  Originally just deep enough to leave footprints, the subsequent thawing and freezing has produced an uneven patchwork of snow and ice that, in places, is difficult to navigate.  There are, as well, spots where the tarmac is dry and some that are slippery with black ice.  In the deep woods are places where fallen leaves peek through their white icy coverlet, giving the ground a mottled look.  In the distance, through stands of tree trunks and denuded brush, I can see patches of wind-blown beige fields not yet blanketed with deep drifts.

That’s the milieu.  I open up my perception to receive all this and whatever Gaia has to say.  I relax my mind, defocusing to the point where I don’t label, I don’t define, I don’t evaluate.  I’m simply here, taking it all in.  I don’t try to resist the cold, I don’t wonder how far we have yet to go, I don’t intellectualize what’s happening.  I just let be whatever is in my mind.  I just “listen.”

I can’t hold this mental posture for long, it fades in and out.  Most of my cognitive brain, I can shut off for short periods, but the labeling, defining and evaluating are so engrained in the way I habitually live and think, that I can only avoid them for seconds at a time.  But I can maintain a mental posture where I never go completely back to how I usually experience the world.  I do my best to just tread water in the middle of Gaia’s ocean, letting the waves of her discourse bob me around as she wills.

As a result, I not only experience what is happening at the moment, I also reexperience what’s happened in the past.  These aren’t memories; I don’t remember what happened, I experience it as if it were happening now.  It’s like what I’m experiencing is a spaciotemporal whole.  I’ve been cold like this before — skiing in the Uintah Mountains, or hiking at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, or walking to grammar school in the middle of winter.  One experience flows into another and into now as if it were all one.  I’m sensing the continuity of my experience of nature as it flows from past to future, beyond what I can conceptualize, without slicing it up into then and now.

All this produces a kind of precognitive, unemotional sense of the universe that is bigger than me, but of which I am a part.  There is a message there, but to try to put it into language would destroy its content.  What Gaia says, she says in subtle suggestions that are not chopped up into words, objectified into things, or conceptualized into discrete thoughts.  Her message is continuous, flowing and experiential.  I reach out and touch Gaia’s heart and she responds with a playful, tender, loving whisper that shimmers through my being.

I have to believe that Waldo communes more regularly than I with Gaia.  With his x-ray nose and his intense interest in everything that’s around him, how could he not?  And, although he does understand some language, I’ll bet his mind is not filled with a distracting, constant stream of language-based thought, leaving him more open to experience nature as it happens.  It makes me wonder what Gaia is telling him…

I have no doubt that there indeed does exist emergent properties of nature.  I also know, from personal experience, that nature does speak to us, if we would only listen.

And what she says is full of awesome, magical beauty.


Most of the forest are bones.

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