Hours, days, and weeks pass without writing, as I plow my way through matters of the heart. Today, however, I feel an impetus to put down a layer of words. It comes from a tree huggin’ place, from my utter respect for nature and for pain at watching consumption impact absolutely everything. I am one of those consumers. It’s not as though my ideas have transitioned much, into action. For example, I do not live off grid. I drive a car. While I don’t buy a lot of stuff, I get my adult children Kinder-Surprise eggs at Easter time….that sort of thing. This isn’t intended to be a defensive post or a judgmental post. I simply want to archive my observations of today.
Last night, I finished another chapter of Wild Stone Heart: An Apprentice in the Fields by Sharon Butala. I usually don’t write a review on a book until I finish it…and honestly, I’m quite a bit behind in that activity, as well…but, this book bears a lot of weight on my heart as I continue the act of circumnavigating a single pond environment every day. I’m now moving into my seventh year. Butala writes about her personal relationship to and with a Saskatchewan field, what it teaches her and how it calls her to grow in knowledge, understanding and spiritual depth. This morning, her words reached into a corner of my heart.
I have been circling the same pond ecosystem every day for six years now. Every day, I see something remarkable. Some days I have a camera. Some days I don’t. Often, even if I have the proper tools with me, I choose not to snap a photograph, claiming all of the beauty for me alone. In fact, recently, I’ve done a lot of that. I’ve gifted myself the time for all of it…for me. It doesn’t have to be photographed, blogged about or even written about…I walk with it…pause with it and it has been a crucial part of my healing. It is my daily prayer.
Nature provides me with a sense of time and light and continuity. Only weeks ago, male Red-winged Blackbirds were in chorus along the pond’s edge, nestled in the cattails, brilliant red wings on showy display. Then, the females became visible. Air combat broke out as the males became territorial. They fought curious and hungry crows and even dive-bombed humans who walked or ran along the trail. Soon, the loud chirping of hungry voices deep at the base of the cattails and not an adult Blackbird without a beak filled with dragonflies and mayflies. Days later, clumsy juveniles tried balancing on chain link fence or on the tips of cat tails, falling and tripping through the pond environment, Mom and Dad, watching closely from a short distance away. And now…only a few linger back. The population has shrunk in a matter of days. Yesterday, only two sightings of males and a single female. And inside, I feel a sadness and a great gratitude, for what summer has meant at the pond.
The Red-necked Grebes have done well. There was only a single loss, from what I can tell, out of six successful nests. At the most easily viewed nest, four eggs hatched and four youngsters hung out for almost a week, when one was lost. The American Coots have increased vastly in numbers. Ruddy duck females are still swimming in formation, with eight and ten little ones tagging behind. Geese in great numbers and the juveniles have been batting their wings, like crazy, while swimming on the pond, preparing for huge and harrowing flights in the autumn.
A single male Kingfisher was sighted just recently, always a little late in the season, but I’ve seen a Kingfisher here for the last three years, at this time. I like to imagine that it’s the same bird, stopping by.
Every day is different and spectacular at the pond.
Yesterday, I looked up from the path and saw three of the most majestic bucks and five female does, edging a particularly busy four lanes of traffic on the west bound lanes of 22X-now-Stoney Trail. The bucks, in the lead, were casing out the situation as they wished to take the females south and across this horrible maze of fencing (all types), asphalt and construction machinery. I waited with my mouth opened wide, uttering, out loud, my fears. It was my instinct to grab for my phone…who would I call?
With that, the three bucks, made huge leaps and bounded onto the highway, the does following…traffic lurched to a halt. Car horns, in symphony, went off. It all lasted about two minutes. One of the females, in utter terror, bounded back and disappeared into the shrubs on this side of the highway. I swore. I yelled, “You stupid assholes!” I was left feeling angry and frightened for our brothers and sisters; wildlife. I thought of the wild fires blazing west of us. I thought of the bears that are being so hemmed in by humankind at the height of berry season. I thought of the hundreds of gulls and crows, together, flying overhead…east…changing migration patterns. I was left feeling very sad and very helpless.
Leaving the pond that day, I took a different route, seeking out some answer about where the deer had gone, but I was cut off by a barricade of cranes and plows. I wondered what would happen to the female, separated from her tribe. I came home, driving under the two osprey nests built precariously on the signage for ‘Deerfoot’ Trail. What’s to be done about all of this? Has it all gone too far?
What is left for me is to experience, document and remember. In the meantime I pray for the inspired thinking of developers, biologists, scientists of every variety. I pray that the next generation goes forward with clarity, knowledge and determination. Our generation, I think, has made a mess of things.