All Things Elemental
Updated: Jan 30, 2022
Great birds fly in perfect motion suspended above me in the wind. Today they are vultures, but I've seen eagles here before. Exhibiting the grace that only comes from a controlled kind of obvious power. Eagles move like a principal dancer. Riding on invisible currents that cannot be seen, but are distinctly felt. In the delirious heat of the past July two such eagles flew over me in this very spot. Their flight pattern followed the power lines and I stopped my jogging and waited in reverence. Hands on hips. Eyes squinting to the sky. Shielding my gaze with my hand. The air was so hot that it was quiet. As if animal instinct told the other creatures to lay low in the shade. The eagles continued to fly. Unafraid of the elements because it seems that they are all things elemental. Heat and flint and air and edge. One of the eagles flew so close overhead that I could hear the beat of it's wings. Like nothing I've ever heard before. Something akin to glory or the soft roar of a heavy velvet curtain unfolding on a stage. The air is much tighter today, as if the fall in degrees has ratcheted down on all settings. I feel the raw cold on my face and I like it. It reminds me I am alive. The wind is at my back like an old Gaelic song would suggest is best. It pushes me forward as my dog and I walk down the road.
I am wearing perfectly muddy boots. They are seven years old now and the left sole melted years ago from stomping out a fire that was still to much a fire. They have seen a lot of adventure. They have walked a desert mile. Today they are covered in mud - because everything is covered in mud. The rain has persisted this season, oversaturating the farmers fields and overwhelming the soybeans. The banks of the roads collecting into spontaneous streams. The river meeting land and the land becoming more and more a river. The streams are chattering with the kind of conversation that only old souls can understand. The kind of souls that have seen through the changing of seasons and the passage of precious time.
I have met a soul like this before. His name was John. He was indigenous to the land and he had a long braid of dark hair and a deep and wonderous smile to spite the fact that his teeth were less that straight. We worked together at a Christmas tree farm. He told me stories of years past and how he planted the trees in the back acres of the land. when I asked him how long he had worked at the farm replied by laughing and said "I don't know . . . how tall are those trees?"
My friends, This is how I hope to tell time; by the height of the trees I have planted.
Smiling at the memory I continue walking and notice a flock of sheep gathering at the long stretch of road. The sheep are sizing up my dog and I. And though my canine companion is an untrained 20-lb mutt something in her tells her to bark and something in them tells them to turn and run away at a slow sheep trot. I don't blame them. I apologize to the retreating flock as if we are all commuters on the London underground and my poorly behaved toddler is wailing. I then turn and gently scold my silly dog. We turn the gentle corner to find three farm workers and they greet me as I pass. All the flotsam around their pick-up would suggest they are mending the fence. A necessary venture- the sheep tend to get out. I have helped them return the flock before. The workers take a break from eating their lunch as they mill about the tailgate. We exchange pleasantries about the wind and sun and weather. I nod and smile and keep walking and they turn back to their sandwiches. My favorite part of the road is the upcoming forest. The trees are tall and proud and knowing and they usher me in as if they have missed my presence. I am flattered. Just a bit further and the wood is overcome with holly. It must be something about the soil or the water table or maybe magic. The holly has made a home here and the fragrance in the air makes me want to whisper. It feels like a place where druids would dance in a circle, or where Father Christmas would ride his sleigh, or where we could very well find the Ghost of Christmas Past. There is something nostalgic about it, though I am walking and waking in real time. The imagery and scent act as a powerful recall to hymns sung standing in the church pews of my childhood. I sing the old songs to myself and to the wind and the wood. It is an offering for the trees. A sweet and sacred blessing. I walk until I tire. And then I turn around.