Yesterday, on my third day of leave I sat in the long grass, in the shade of our callistemon and right next to the new chook run my daughter and I made the day before. I was exhausted from an hour’s digging, so I sat very still and quiet for a while. Still enough and for long enough to be approached by a pair of usually timid crested pigeons. They hopped, one at a time onto the chooks water container and had a little sip of water, just a hand’s breadth from me.
When I was young I thought these birds were drab beyond belief – just grey and beige and a few black stripes. Yesterday, I got to see them close enough to notice that their stripes are iridescent, purple and green flashing in the sun. The beige is like a blush shawl, dusted gently over the shoulders. These little birds are also delightfully dainty, especially when sitting among my fat hens.
I am grateful today for the beauty in the ordinary and for having taken the time to notice.
Thank you also Melanie J Cook for the beautiful photo.
I am grateful for water today. I am grateful for the beautiful clean water that comes fresh from the tap, for having all the water I need to drink, cook, bathe, clean, and keep my garden going through this winter heat wave.
I am grateful for the rain, washing the sky clean of dust and smog, for the sweet smell of the rain, and for the wild music of the rain on my tin roof, and for the drama of the storm. I am grateful for the rain, for the promise of rain and for the memory of it too.
I am grateful for our river, the Bremer, that despite being clogged with rubble and debris and silt from reckless developers and harried farmers, she keeps flowing, serene to the sea. I am grateful for her beauty, and for the breezes she cools.
And I am grateful for the seas, the wild oceans, our wild mother oceans which nurtured all life… may they never be tamed! And I am grateful for the slap and sting of salt water on my bare skin which reminds me that I am here now and I’d best pay attention.
I am grateful for water today.
This morning, on this first day of gratitude, I am grateful for my breath.
In and out and up she rises.
For a moment loving and nourishing me alone
and then leaving,
just for a moment
before returning replenished.
My breath, connecting me to all things.
My breath connects me to the earth and the rich warm smell of the earth, to rain and to the possibility of rain, to my neighbour’s bonfire, and to the other neighbours’ dogs. To little birds, to people everywhere, to the mighty old trees crowding the sky down by the river.
In and out, here now and gone again and here, now and now and now,
my breath, your breath,
Beyond your reach!
You might have touched!
Had you but chanced this way!
‘Stead sauntered through the village,
Sauntered so soft away.
A meadowfull of violets
Host bees in morning’s glow,
Not for unknowing fingers
That passed, so long ago.
I wrote this in response to Emily Dickinson’s poem that was (probably posthumously) titled Almost! You can see the original in many places including here
The pressure to perfect this was too intense. I thought about every sound and syllable, read so many of her poems and about her life, and the poem seems to have hardly changed from the original. That’s why no post for a month! But there – it’s done, it’s the best I could do.
There is so much bad and sad news about.
And all of it important: Deforestation, Pollution, War Crimes, Domestic Violence, Hate Crimes, Homelessness, and so much more.
To ignore any of it seems a crime in itself. Do I want to be ignorant and unfeeling?
And yet is lying awake at night in a state of paralysis doing any good either?
And so I picked one thing I can do, one thing that is the very best of what I have to offer.
I plant trees.
I plant trees and have faith that those of you who document, march, write letters, offer safe harbour and commit other acts of nonviolence are all out there taking action with me.