“Leave the edges wild.”
I read those words someplace recently. They aligned absolutely with my heart and soul. I believe they came from the lyrics of a song. They do sing in my thoughts. “Leave the edges wild.”
Perhaps it is because I have been working in my yard so much lately, but “leave the edges wild” certainly seems to apply to my gardening philosophy. It lets the wild things just be – all vines and moss and dragonflies, bird nests and grasshoppers, worms and clover and roly-poly bugs. It’s mother nature with torn pockets and messy hair. more “Leave the edges wild.”
It was just a slight graze – the nose of one car slid across the back bumper of the other car. No one’s fault more than the other’s. Just too much traffic. Too much hurry. A blind crossing. In the blinding heat of the summer.
It happened right behind me, so I saw mostly mirror images of it all. But I heard the anger as it railed through my open windows. I felt the fierce and hostile energy as it slammed against my ears and eyes and heart. Where was the compassion? I expected more from women. I always do. No one asked, “Are you alright?” No one claimed “I’m sorry.” Just accusations and assumed righteousness. And the lone daughter in one of the cars watched. Her face was twisted, as she watched and listened and learned.
The light changed then, I had to move on. I couldn’t help, and it made me cry. Tears as hot and wet as the day. Sadness for the energy that broke into my heart and crushed down into me.
As I drove slowly forward, my eyes lifted up and caught in the wires and cables over our heads as they carried their own currents of energy and power. And on the wires perched rows of birds. Birds watching. Birds listening. Mockingbirds. more “Look for the Mockingbirds.”
They’re sun yellow and fresh orange and rust red. And they show their brilliant colors even as they pull their tidy green skirts tightly up around themselves – both when they are shyly beginning to greet the world, and when they are reluctantly leaving it.
I suspect it’s one of the things I admire most about marigolds. I can never tell if one of their colorful blooms is just being born or just beginning to die. They look identical to me. That’s why I hesitate to pinch them off. I’m never quite sure if I may be pinching off one that is just getting ready to let the sunshine kiss its face, instead of one that is stepping back from the light, closing itself away to prepare new seeds for the next generation. more “Trusting Marigolds.”
It was 3:00 a.m. And it was the third night in a row. The scream (for there was nothing else to call it) came from nearby, and woke me from a sound sleep again. It was not human – definitely animal – but not cat or dog or rabbit or bird. Nothing in pain. It sounded intentional, yet not frightened or even angry.
It screamed again – long and shrill and primitive. And it echoed around the hollow stillness of the neighborhood. Everything else was absolute silence. My windows were open to the night, but I could see nothing in the moon shadows. Nothing but the shadows.
And so, without consideration, compelled by another wild scream, and something more than simple curiosity, something more like instinct, I ran out into the street, without shoes on my feet, but with a flashlight in my hand.
And there she stood. Not half a block away. Alone and alert. A beautiful fox, screaming. more “My Summer of Talking to Foxes.”
Their pitch is loud and quick and insistent. Their voices tumble together through my door and windows that are open wide to Spring. Over and over again, their chattering starts suddenly with a burst of excitement, and ends just as suddenly with a sense of secrecy. They are tiny and newborn and nesting in the far northwest corner of my carport-turned-sitting-porch-called-veranda. They are Carolina wrens. more “Waiting to fly.”
“Oh, wow!” she kept saying, in that breathless sort of wonder that can be heard only in the voice of youth and innocence. “Oh, wow!” Her tiny nose and hands pressed against one store window and then another. She pointed to counter after counter filled with candy. And then several displays of plastic eggs. And scenes of stuffed bunnies and yellow chicks and woven baskets of every size. Even a stack of nothing more than colorful socks caused her to express delight. “Oh, wow!” she said, again and again, as her tiptoes carried her from place to place, store to store, joy to joy.
She is only two-and-a-half years old, perhaps a bit closer to three. But she is brilliantly new to the world; fresh with quickened senses and anticipation. Her name is Jane. And she was visiting my neighbor – her grandmother – just before Easter. I was delighted when Jane and her mother and grandmother invited me to come with them to explore downtown Aiken for their first time. more “Oh, wow!”
I frequently walk with dead people. I don’t see them – like in the popular movie – but I do hear their voices, their words. I listen to their wisdom and insight and observations. And they typically fall into step with me when I’m walking alone with dog Quincy in the silence of the woods, or down muted dirt roads in the horse district, or along deserted early morning neighborhood streets.
My ghost companions are writers and poets, wise women and prophets. Their presence is carried on the wind and comes alive inside its whispers. They put snippets of essays behind my eyes and scraps of poetry and songs into my ears. And we talk about the meaning of their words. And I am astounded at the connections they offer me between their generations and my own. From their distant and so different lives, flow such familiar feelings. more “Walking with Ghosts.”
I suspect it may be the reason most dogs keep us around. We can drive cars … and trucks and motorhomes and motorcycles. And, as a result, we can seemingly create the very wind itself.
To the senses of dogs riding in cars, I suspect it seems we can also somehow make all the best smells float on the air at once, with a cacophony of new and familiar sounds intertwined and changing every few seconds. We magically bring farms with fields of horses into view before they dash past us with glorious speed. We find new people to watch walking and riding bikes, and other dogs to call out to playing in yards. And we can rush past and beyond them all with great authority and intentionality. more “Dogs riding in cars.”
Seated in a classroom, surrounded by environmentally devoted students in a graduate writing class, “What if the earth loves you back?” was a question posed by Robin Wall Kimmerer, Distinguished Professor of Environmental Biology, member of the Potawatomi Nation, and my personal favorite wise-woman writer. She describes the scene in her book, Braiding Sweetgrass.
“What if the earth loves you back?” she said. But it was not really a question. It is not really a question to me, either. I only have to walk among the thick-set trees in Hitchcock Woods, or along the sandy edges of Edisto Island, or run my hands across the velvet side of a magnolia leaf in my own backyard to know the answer. We are all reminded of it in the morning songs of birds and with the warmth of the afternoon sun; evidence of it can be found on the pollen-laden backsides of bees and in the brilliant faces of dandelions.
more “What if the earth loved you back?”
It’s more British than American. And it likely originated as a toast. The phrase “more power to your elbows” meant you lifted your comrades up to continued good fortune, with many more celebrations to come (so their elbows would therefore be bent in many more celebratory toasts). But now, “more power to your elbows” is most often just said in recognition of a thing well done, with hope for even more successes. A sort of quirky wish for “good luck.” more “More power to your elbows.”