Her eyes were sparkling, “I had a salad at the new raw place and there were two lady bugs on a piece of spinach.”
“Oh my God!”
“Right? I knew it was a good salad then.”
“What did you do with them?”
“I took the spinach leaf and put it in the planter with flowers and we ate lunch next to each other.”
This is a typical conversation in my life now. It is also not the least bit odd nor is it strange that I wear hiking boots with a suit in case the need for a spontaneous three mile hike breaks out at lunch. Like many in my proximity good boots are worth much more to me than a car and an appropriate number of layers is just planning when getting dressed. Rain means nothing if you’re under a canopy of trees or scaling rocks with good hand holds but it’s important to have a slicker in your pack in case you have to walk through town. Rain feels differently when it falls off eaves as opposed to leaves.
Just two days ago I walked along with a nice family of wild turkeys. They stopped to scratch around by the ferns. They looked me over and then deciding I was just another animal and not particularly predatory they went on with their chores. I watched them for awhile then felt like I might be intruding so I ambled down the path to a beautiful young, male deer as he sat in a clearing no doubt waiting for his buddy to return. We looked at each other with a friendly interest but neither of us decided a reaction was needed so we just continued on in our afternoon of fresh air and drizzle.
There were some pretty little slugs on stones by the river and I stopped and chatted for awhile but they seemed busy heading for higher ground. They know the water levels will be rising so it’s time to winter at more practical heights.
The leaves are red, pink, yellow and orange and they fall around me on my walks now. They crowd around the places where the river ponds and they drop into the water creating a kaleidoscope on the bottom.
It would be so lonely if these places were no longer here. The unbearable would be too heavy a load to carry if I could not share it with my family of turkeys, deer, slugs and ladybugs. We know how it is out here where the noise of destruction fades and the stars stand guard at night. We know how peaceful the world is really meant to be and benevolence runs with more generosity than anything a single species could manufacture. There is love and care in every branch that falls leaving a tree smaller but a habitat larger for a countless number of other creatures who bask in and on it grateful for their blessing.
Balance is not difficult unless you don’t know how. We as human animals get so trumped up in our propaganda that we pretend and often believe we do not know the simplest of things–life is real and the world is full of it–all healthy and wanting only to live, that water is good to drink and fresh vegetables and fruit grow in abundance all on their own and that you could live an entire life very well without harming anyone else. We forget that we don’t need to have all the things we may want and that total silence is not really quiet because the hum of life is always present if you remember how to hear it.
And yes..you can share your salad with a pair of ladybugs and nothing will happen except you’ll have a nice lunch date. Bugs are not dirty or bad or harmful. Actually, that’s us, humans who are teaming with germs and viruses, covered with all sorts of bizarre and harmful chemicals and capable of behaving very badly. Despite all that- the bugs, turkey, deer and sweet smelling things accept us and deal with our immaturity with grace. I imagine the really old species like beetles and certain birds watching us and saying to each other..”oh kids these days..so much to learn. Well, I’m sure they’ll get it sorted eventually but in the meantime let’s just avoid them.”
Because, write this down somewhere, we are not the master species, the most intelligent or anything really special to anyone but us. It’s so human to think because we proclaim ourselves superior it makes it so and that the entire Universe is here serve to us. What are the mathematical chances that 8 billion years of evolution and millions of species exist for our personal means and delight? Really think about that–how could that be even remotely accurate since we weren’t here for most of that time and all living things feel their life is also important and special?
I remember being told that people are more important because we use tools and have thumbs. Well lots of animals use tools and what the hell does a crow need with a thumb? He can fly. He wins that argument without trying.
I know we are just bold little children and kind of cute with our silly ideas but there’s no need to be a bully too. We can find our balance and it’s quite easy. I think it starts with a good pair of sensible boots or bare feet if you have the chops for it, but either way just begin walking.