Tag Archive 'awakening'

Apr 06 2021

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Springtime Illumination

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Deep in the woods, I return to a familiar a place along a mountain brook that I’ve visited many times before. This has become an annual ritual for me. Early in the spring, I come here to celebrate the unfolding of yet another growing season, well before the first lilies arise.

There’s a boulder twice as tall as I am and much wider, not far from the stream. Half of it is covered with moss coming back to life after a long, cold season. The sun illuminates the moss, along with evergreen ferns sprawled across the top. Icicles still dangle from the rock. Beyond it, patches of snow still lurk in the forest shadows.

This is the very beginning of it – a mere hint of what’s to come. Nearby rivulets full of snowmelt rush towards the brook, which is now a silted green torrent. The leafless trees creak in a faint breeze. The sun beats down upon the forest floor, turning the frozen earth into mud. Soon this forest will be teeming with fresh verdure.

I put my hand to the moss while giving thanks for simply being alive, for still being able to reach this place. Days away from turning 65, I no longer take anything for granted. I squint into the sun, feeling its heat. And the spirit of the wild washes over me while I do so.

Whether God exists or not I leave to others to contemplate. When I am alone in a wild forest, such matters seem moot. In springtime I know that Nature is unfolding in all its glory, and I am a part of it. That is enough.

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Apr 09 2014

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Cold Mud

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cold mudSpring has arrived at long last. Migrating birds are returning, tree buds are swelling as the sap runs, and rain has replaced snowfall. The sump pump in my basement runs constantly, overwhelmed by snowmelt. Throughout the Champlain Valley, the ground is being exposed everywhere the sun can reach it. But a cool mist shrouds wooded places where snow lingers. Even with temps rising into the 50s at midday, the forest still feels like a refrigerator.

I went for a hike yesterday wanting nothing more than to lay tracks in cold mud. Disappointed by the snowpack I found in deeper woods, I ended up on Aldis Hill where a south-facing slope was more brown than white. Halfway up the slope, I slipped and fell. The ground remains frozen beneath a couple inches of raw earth. It’s been a long, cold winter.

I wandered about the hilltop, soon leaving the trail, gravitating towards open patches of bleached forest duff. When forced to tramp through snow, I left muddy tracks in it, often punching through to wet ground beneath. So it goes this time of year.

While sitting on a rocky outcrop completely free of snow, I contemplated the passage of time. At 58 I have seen a lot of winters come and go. Yet there is something about April that always feels brand new, as if the world was just created and I just happen to be here for the great awakening.

On the way back down the steep slope, I slipped and fell again, soaking myself good. I soiled my clothes in the process but it didn’t matter. Wallowing in the rawness of the season. A muddy baptism.



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