June 9, 2020

And suddenly, the world is green again!


Life is available only in the present moment.  If you abandon the present moment you cannot live the moments of your life deeply.

-Thich Nat Hahn


In just two weeks, the trees all went from baring their skeletons, having only the tiniest of leaves, still mostly in their buds, to being fully verdant.  Oaks, birches, maples, black walnuts, all of them are clothed in verdure.  They are now politically correct and provide privacy for squirrels and many a bird.  I’m hearing Emmy-birds again, back from wherever it is they winter, and the cheeps and whistles of so many others.  All that green makes the world seem smaller, more intimate, and alive — almost as if Mother Nature wants to give you a hug.  It provides welcomed shade on those days when the temperature reaches into the 80s.  The foliage and the wind work together to create a rustling that whispers just loud enough to softly blanket the city noise, all too nearby, but not loud enough to drown out the cheerful chirp of the birds.  The Branch Manager (Waldo) and I are now starting our walks in the early morning to avoid the worst of the unseasonable heat and it’s a great way to start the day.

Social isolation recommendations have been eased, in the sense that some businesses are now reopening, but there is still the requirement of facemasks (when in groups) and six foot or more distancing.  I don’t see much of a change on the rail-trail.  Most of the people I see, I recognize from before and the numbers haven’t increased.  There might even be an inverse relationship, with fewer people walking with us now that there are more options out there, more places people can go to get out of the house.  Some wear masks, many do not (I don’t, but I carry one in my back pocket if I need it).  We all keep our distance and most are cheerful and friendly.  I suspect that any changes are temporary and that there will be another surge in infections, reapplied business closures and the rest.  How could it be otherwise?  The virus is still out there, more of it than there was in March, and it is still as infectious and virulent as ever.  It’s going to be a long summer and fall.

Waldo prances along, nose just above the ground, mouth full of sticks, stopping for an in-depth nose-scan every now and then.  He sometimes wanders off-trail into the greenery, after something I can’t identify, and I have to call him back before he gets all twisted up in the shrubbery.  I shudder to think of how many ticks he’s picking up.  At least he doesn’t leave a pile in there.  If he did, I would have to bushwhack through all that vegetation to retrieve it.  Still, it never ceases to lighten my heart to see his bouncy, tail-wagging, totally engrossed prance down our green tunnel that once was a railroad.   How sad our existence would be if we didn’t have this.  Full quarantine would really suck.

I walk along, mostly 8 meters behind Waldo, at the slow end of the leash, and just let my mind go where it will.  It goes lots of places, but I no longer have daily issues that impact my subconscious mind and leave craters that I feel pressured to fill in.  I no longer have the compulsion to perseverate and mull over what happened in the immediate past in order to reach some kind of resolution that is artificial and temporary, lasting only until the next bump in the road of life.  In its place, I have space to relax into the moment and just pay attention to what it has to offer.  To follow Waldo’s example and sniff the faint odor of damp ground, listen to the birds twitter and the bugs buzz, look, really look, at woody branches sporting their whispering foliage, feel the air as it dances in the small hairs in my skin, and appreciate what is happening right now, in this place.  I reach out with my mind and embrace Mother Nature as she envelops me, drawing me to her bosom.  And that is enough, virus or no virus, lockdown or full freedom, pandemic or not.

And Mother Nature is always there, waiting for me to recognize her as she is.


Sometimes, you just have to chill and take it in.

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