There is a small pond, a marsh really, that sits in the middle of our meadow. Each year a pair of Golden Eyes, a pair of Buffleheads, and a pair of Mallards come to breed. The swallows divebomb them. The muscrats seem to swim on their own hours. The dogs have learned not to chase them. It’s a happy little eco-system, with nearby lilacs that homesteaders planted many years ago. Their barn and cabin long gone; a few old rusted out farming implements left in tangles in the high grass. An old bucket on an old spring. We leave it all alone. We don’t need to prove anything. Land is something that is borrowed. And we are just stewards. We watch the forest floor produce magenta Calypso orchards each spring, and then arnica, Oregon grape, on and on through aster and kinick kinick berries before it’s time to sleep in snow. It all seems to tolerate us.
But after eleven years on this land, I have never felt quite what I did today. Because there, on the edge of the meadow, stood four Canada geese. I figured they were just passing through, on their way to more secluded or prominent ponds or lakes or rivers. I stopped and looked and there inbetween them, were six goslings. And I stood there and watched as they moved into the water. And as much as I know that it had nothing to do with us, except for the fact that we haven’t mown down the meadow and turned it into condominiums– I felt chosen, whatever that means. We have really just let it alone to become what it will become. And I thought of the Wendell Berry quote:
“When despair for the world grows in me, and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be — I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought or grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all