Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Instance of Time

My general intention with this blog is to learn what I can learn from local backyard observations of nature---and to write only what I observe first hand.   I will continue in that vain---but must digress today to comment on the larger natural picture of recent earthquakes the world over that are shaking our very foundations----from Indonesia, to China, to Haiti, to New Zealand, and now the worst of the worst in northern Japan.

While I try to keep my ear on the comforting post-earthquake words of the Reverend Dean Peter Beck of Christchurch Cathedral, which bear repeating, ("It was not an act of God. It was the earth doing what the earth does. The act of God in this tragedy is the hand of the people reaching out in aid to each other." ) still, the toll of such disasters on life and human society as we know it, and the question of how to respond from safe and comfortable distances, sometimes become overwhelming.  These are some of those times.   It causes me to contemplate the "speck of dust" nature of all of our existences and how one instant of time can change everything.

One effect of that is to put into perspective the miniscule nature of the daily struggles with which we often concern ourselves---that is---the insignificance of the event about which I posted yesterday (a tree root cracking the brick wall that holds up our front yard) in the face of the total annihilation of a city by a tsunami wave.

But the other more lasting effect, I hope, is to renew our commitments to each other in our daily affairs, and to resolve to make every human encounter one that improves the moment for the people involved---because that's all we can really be sure of---the moment---and we owe it to ourselves and to those within our sphere of influence to enhance those present moments.  dkm

Monday, March 14, 2011

Johnny Appleseed

If I didn't know better, I'd think the squirrels  understood our conversations about cutting down their tree. Its roots have buckled the driveway and are beginning to crack the brick wall that holds up our front yard.  It is an old tree in danger of splitting anyway, and our tree man tells us we need to cut it before the new spring root growth causes further damage to the wall.  While I understand the wall issue,  I was resistant to  losing the tree,  first because it is a beautiful tree, and second because of the squirrels' nest it harbors. I had hoped to witness the whole season of birth and caretaking by the family squirrel from my morning coffee window.

Then wonder of wonders, a few days before the scheduled felling of the tree, my brilliant squirrels up and moved!  One morning, not two but three squirrels worked together making multiple trips up and down the trunk of the pear tree carrying clumps of dry leaves in their mouths and leaping into the neighbor's magnolia tree across the driveway.  The magnolia leaves, being evergreen, dense, and opaque offer much better cover, so yay, the squirrels will be safer from hawks there, and it lessens the sting of losing the pear tree.

On the day Johnny Appleseed arrived with his trucks and saws and cranes and ropes, he said they would take great care with the nest in case it was still in use.   To my surprise and delight, the workmen were beyond careful.  They roped and cut and set the branch down gently in the yard, and seemed happy to do so.   They confirmed the nest was abandoned, but it did my heart good to see them so respect it.  Not to my credit is my surprise that men who operate such heavy equipment would exhibit enough tenderness of soul to preserve a pesky squirrels' nest.  But in a world so full of bravado and aggression, the tender moment uplifted me.

The tree was in full spring bloom on the day of its death.  I grieved its loss.  We filled the house with its stinky blossoms.  dkm

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Shuddering Earth

"It was not an act of God. It was the earth doing what the earth does. The act of God in this tragedy is the hand of the people reaching out in aid to each other."

As near as I can remember, those were the inspired words of the Reverend Dean Peter Beck of Christchurch Cathedral in a radio interview after yet another devastating earthquake shook the good people of New Zealand last week. With those simple and memorable words he ministered to the world, even as New Zealand recovers from a larger quake only five months earlier---though this one is the more tragic, for the loss of life it cost.

This morning, on new spring birdsong from the other side of the world, I send my most fervent hopes and well-wishes to the people of Christchurch, Canterbury, and Lyttelton Harbour in New Zealand. And a small donation to Christchurch Cathedral---not for its repair, but for its ministry to the people there. dkm