We save the world by being alive ourselves—-Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
I took a screen shot of this quote a couple of years ago and found it again the other day when I was going through some old pictures. It felt like those words were meant for me to find at this time, in the springtime when the world is coming back to life again. For it is nature that makes me feel alive, breathing, joyful and ensouled. The author, James Hillman wrote that soul was not a thing or a place but a perspective— a way of seeing, experiencing and participating in the world. Nature flourishes in the spring and it is easy to feel alive and refreshed with the green trees, soft breezes and bird songs. Here are somethings in my world that make my soul sing with life and joy.
Mama turkey is nesting just at the edge of the lawn. It was by sheer accident that I found her nest so well hidden in the undergrowth. For 28 days the hens sit quietly on their nest, moving just enough to gently turn the eggs about every hour or so. I sneak down every day to check on her and see her beautiful brown eyes and body so perfectly camouflaged. It is a joy to be up close to such a miracle of life and instinct. I highly recommend the award-winning documentary My Life as a Turkey, a charming story of a naturalist who became a turkey mama for a year.
The Brood X cicadas have come to life again after their 17-year wait. They are a pest and a miracle all in one. Since we live in the woods, their numbers are vast here and their sounds have become very loud from dawn to dusk—something like a car alarm going off all the time. I think it sounds like alien ships landing—and they do look like aliens. Caroline is fascinated by their long breeding cycle and sheer numbers—billions of them over several states. She has been eagerly awaiting their arrival and is now gathering their gossamer wings. The structure and golden color are works of art. You can see her life as an amateur naturalist on her Instagram @eigenstuff. But fair warning, she has a unique and lively mind and her perspective can be very funny.
My peacocks! Have I told you how much I love my peacocks? Mimi, Brunehilde and Figaro are a year old and have lots of personality—OK they are opera stars and use their beautiful voices to honk when stressed. They are growing up and are learning to do their peacock jobs, mainly eat bugs and make me happy. We built a large outdoor run so they can bond with the land and eventually learn to roam the property and look beautiful doing so. Every evening I go down with a couple of pieces a bread, their favorite treat, and talk with them and just take in the evening light. It is a beautiful flourish to the end of the day. I get them back in their roost and lock them safely away for the night, a perfect evening ritual to take me one last time into nature now bathed in moonlight and the haunting call of the wippoorhorwill.
A few weeks ago Hamilton and I planted 20 small trees. We needed a privacy screen and some fast-growing Thuja Green Giants seemed to be the right choice for our land. Although very small now, they will grow to be very tall. But to give them a good and healthy start I have a summer of watering. Most of them I can reach with a long hose but eight of them require hauling buckets of water, not an easy job for me. Every week I get to talk to the saplings and now I’m seeing tiny bits of bright green on the tips of the branches. I love nurturing these small plants now so they can fulfill their destiny as mighty trees.
Our world is so precious and vibrantly alive, inviting us to be alive too. The animals, insects, birds and trees know their purpose and place in the world and they go about doing their part. That doesn’t mean life is without problems. The peacocks pick on each other and I have to clean their roost. The turkey chicks are in grave danger from owls and hawks. The little trees are vulnerable in the dry summer. The cicadas have a short life and are all over my front porch. Thoughtless people throw garbage on the roadsides and my sweet friend Lynn helped me clean it up. But imperfection doesn’t mean that life isn’t beautiful. Wabi Sabi, a Japanese idea, holds that beauty is in the imperfection.
Nature just is and welcomes you, just as you are. — Beth Kempton, Wabi Sabi: Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life.