Monday, June 28, 2010

A River or a Pond

It is better to walk in a river than a pond. The river bursts wildly, gushing over speckled, well-worn rocks. The pond waits silently, relying on banjo frogs and flitting dragonflies to create ripples on the otherwise glasslike surface.

When stepping into the river, it is vital to choose a stable rock. Chances are, unless the rock is in standing water, it will not be slimy. Luckily, river rocks are not as prone to algae because of the constant rushing water. A well-placed foot causes the current to re-route – white rushing water tickles if you take time to linger.

A pond is an entirely different story. Everything is slimy, a haven where life clings to all surfaces, making the water murky and brownish. If I strain, I can hear a subtle trickle where an underground brook empties into the pond. Today, I noticed two very fat tadpoles sitting quite still on a rust colored rock which begs the question, is the rock rusty or is it the water?

The cattails are now taller than I am. They are a staple of indigenous peoples, still used throughout the world. Dig up the roots in early spring to find delicious sprouts that can be eaten raw. Now, in early summer, the 2 to 3 foot stalks can be peeled for their tasty core, known to some as “Cossack asparagus”, which is consumed raw, boiled or steamed. Beside the cattails are a handful of exquisite wild irises. Their roots look alike, but the irises are poisonous, so it is crucial to identify the stalks carefully and in the presence of established cattails.

I rely on the spirit and energy of water. When my own well is dry, I go to the source, each offering its own unique gift. The pond is closest and it beckons. If I step in the muck, my feet will disappear and I will be unable to move. Today I am unable to ignore the agitated deer fly that circles my head before buzzing deep into the curls on the nape of my neck.

I stood before the pond and waited; it would not work today. The tranquility lulls me to sleep, covering me with a thick dark blanket that is so safe that it becomes unsafe when I cannot crawl out from under it.

Although it is raining lightly, I think I will go to the river instead. The quickening current shouts into the wind and thrashes by, not noticing or taking the time to invite me in. It is up to me to figure out that it is to my advantage to wash away the toxic clutter of the material world that invades my senses. After all, my awareness whisked me away from serene muckiness to invigorating commotion.

The river is clear. The river is cold, so cold that I gasp when I first go under and bathe in her spirit. I am able to focus on the tiniest specks of gold and mica on the endless rock floor. I tread water in the deep, round, emerald pool and rest my eyes on two gigantic spiders clinging to the side of a granite rock. I am not afraid.

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