sunrise: 4:54 am
I am reflecting these days on the divergent experiences offered through contact with the natural world.
Our bird expertise is growing bit by bit, partially thanks to a very entertaining app on J's smartphone called "iBird." Part of our motivation is to figure out who is making such a racket outside our windows every morning. We've identified all kinds of backyard birds by song and plumage. J also finally spotted baby ducks on our pond. He caught them briefly just before mama duck led them into the thickest reeds for protection.
In other outdoor news, the other day J and I each came home from separate excursions with turtle in hand. Mine was a big old painted turtle, very effectively protecting himself from me and the dogs.
J's was the tiniest snapping turtle I've ever seen. His belly covering was only partially formed - it was hard in the center, but all around his tiny, prehistoric legs the skin was still soft and supple. It reminded me of the fontanelle on the head of a human baby.
While watching the turtles, we also witnessed the tenacious efforts of a red squirrel, determined to get to our bird feeder. He was fearless - about 8 feet away from us and the dogs, but seemed to know somehow that he had a manageable escape route.
That same day, J had seen a beaver, several blue herons, an adult eagle and several immature eagles while canoeing on the Souadabscook River.
The natural world is charmingly filled with promise: new life, perpetual regeneration, protectiveness, perseverance, survival, and beauty.
We spent an afternoon hip deep in the muck of our pond recently, to do some clearing of cattails. We both came out with leeches attached, which pretty much ruined the experience for me. J kept at it, however, and wandered into the mother lode of leeches. Most (but not all) were miniscule, but determined to find open wounds and feed off of him. We removed about 40. Seriously.
Not far from where I found the painted turtle, my little hound Guster caught and shook a baby groundhog right in front of me, before I could stop him. I shrieked at him to stop, but I was too late. The little critter was still moving, but devastated; I will spare you the details. I had to end his suffering as fast as I could. It was a task way out of my comfort zone, but the clarity of what was right outweighed my squeamishness. Very sad. Guster, on the other hand, was elated with triumphant pride.
The natural world is full of parasites, violence, suffering, and death.
Amongst my family and friends this last month, there has been a new pregnancy, a couple of new babies, and a new job. There was also a tragic suicide.
The whole package is all around us every day - caring and killing, exuberance and despair, bloodsucking and enriching, sunup and sundown, birth and death. Somehow, we have to carry on in the full acceptance of everything. Perhaps we can learn something by observing how life's spectrum plays out all around us every day with such equanimity.