“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” – Albert Camus
On the morning of October 1st, at first light, I was scared out of a reasonably sound sleep by the sound of explosions in the woods. Welcome, duck hunters. Now go home.
Having already managed to pick up a nasty head cold, I spent a day home last week trying to sleep off the worst of it. Late in the afternoon I took an hour in the healing sun, sitting on the edge of our lake, feeling more like myself than I have in six weeks.
Our lake continues to disappear, as the drought continues across much of Maine. October’s forecast is not calling for anything close to enough rain to make up for the ten inch deficit we’ve been accumulating since April. Usually the water is all the way up to the far left of the photo.
In late May this rock was submerged, and I was carefully navigating the lake bottom (with healthy feet) to catch children as they plunged into the water.
Certainly birds remain, but I haven’t been as attentive to them as I was during the spring and summer. We no longer hear the juvenile osprey screaming at their parents for food all day. Mostly we see turkeys – in open fields and front yards, on country roads and I-95. Yesterday we had one in the backyard but it flew up into a tree when it heard me clomping across the kitchen floor for a better look. For more on the fascinating world of turkeys see here: https://www.nwtf.org/hunt/article/five-senses-wild-turkey and http://www.maine.gov/ifw/wildlife/species/birds/wildturkey.html. (I use the word “fascinating” somewhat loosely.)
Geese have been flying over for several weeks now. It makes me feel a little better about my own scattered process of getting through a day when I see them take a few tries to sort out their flying “V.”
I guess somebody has to be straggling behind, while half the pack is racing to get up front, and the leader can’t help but wonder, “What was I thinking trying to lead this pack of clowns? I’m exhausted. They won’t quit complaining. What’s the point?”
But here’s the thing, and it’s a truth (my own!) that I come back to again and again. We go on through days that seem mundane because we must. Because someone is counting on us. Because we are here for a reason. And if we can’t see the reason then we owe it to ones we’ve loved and lost from this earth to find a reason and make our time here count. Part of this truth, for me, means treating Mother Earth like the patient hostess that she is. Pick up your trash. Leave the place better than you found it. Recycle. Turn off lights when you leave the room. Teach a kid why nature matters. Go outside. Play. Walk, don’t drive.
This week I have my first Board meeting for our local lake association, and in November I hope to join the Board of the land trust in the neighboring county, where I now work, and therefore spend half my life (and also where I spent my college years). The land trust in my county is choked with (good) lawyers already – I hate being an extra sitting on the bench. Maybe I can put some of my land use/real estate/zoning/conservation work to good use and help preserve more land for public outdoor recreation.
One of my favorite poets is Mary Oliver. Tonight I leave you with her take on geese, and life:
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.