December 16, 2012

North Cairn: Rays of light, phragmites, then bliss

(Continued from page 1)

Whole worlds were going on around me, and the phragmites, suddenly, with their beauty reminded me that this is always so. Within a month or two, the great horned owls would be back to their customary haunts, hooting their mating calls, low and mournful in the night, as though nothing cold could be lonelier than the chance for a mate not yet won, a work in progress reiterating in the dead of night.

I know for a fact there is a coyote hovering in the brush, sometimes even making a cut-through in the wetlands out back where the reeds and sedge prevail, on its way to the tidal marsh. I hear him sometimes -- or her, perhaps -- uncertain only because I haven't yet gotten close enough in daylight to know for sure.

For now, I have to settle for the unsettling, the sound of something big and heavy pouncing in the yew, the dried hydrangeas and the drooped azaleas, a stranger moving quickly on. The animal is like a specter, so quick, so agile, so large -- some presence the mind might be quicker to yield up as death or devil.

But I recognize something better in the brush: difference, an other, a co-dweller in this space of earth and time.

When I am out in the evening now, tending to clothes left through the night dew on the back clothesline, or lugging the heavy doors of the bulkhead closed like a sarcophagus, I stop to listen to the night, to breathe in the darkness, to sense the decline that the end of every day foreshadows. I no longer think of death as separate from life, or that this earth is my property or the landholdings of my kind. There are worlds upon worlds of inhabitants here, from the meek sowbug or slimy snail, to the elegant egret preening in the marsh, to the incomprehensible whales with their gigantic brains navigating the seas from pole to pole.

I have given up on knowing where it all goes or how it all begins and ends. I am hardly a cog, barely a bud. It is enough that I am partial, and in that, whole.

Staff Writer North Cairn can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:


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