Sunday, June 3, 2012

Fresh Rain: Drenched in Peace

The rushing rain and impatient wind brought me to the edge of my instincts. The temperature dropped and the visibility was low. I considered two possibilities. The first was to curl up with a soft blanket and be lulled to sleep by the sound of rain tapping against the roof or take advantage of the decrease in bug activity and go outdoors to harvest various leaves and flowers for my tea blends.

I really had no choice, because if I decided to sleep, the thought of missing an almost bug-less opportunity outdoors would haunt me and keep me awake; it wouldn’t work. Plus, I am not one to give in to naps as often as I should. I always feel like there is so much to be done and I must use every moment to the fullest extent.

So I dressed in my outdoor work clothes and entered into the world of volatile wind and driving rain. Within moments I was soaked but it didn’t matter. There were only a few mosquitoes and black flies. To me they are annoying, even when wearing my net hat.

I was happy to be in the rain. More importantly, as much as I complain about the thick swarms of bugs, I rejoice that there is healthy and abundant life where I live. If there were few or no insects, then something would be wrong. I am thankful that there is no toxic spraying here. There is hope in bugs – in spite of chemicals (such as aluminum and barium) lacing the atmosphere, water and earth’s fragile ecosystems – there is life. Even though I sometimes complain, I am quite grateful that nature’s balance is still intact and the lower part of the food chain is present.

I deliberately passed by my favorite daisy field. I have been waiting patiently for their arrival. They nodded with bright faces filled with optimism – fuel for navigating cold, gray mist. Then I was ready to sit directly on the saturated earth amidst a sea of wild strawberries that are on the verge but have not yet produced fruit.

As I picked leaves I found myself singing I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover; one of many beloved childhood songs. Unexpectedly, this became one of the selections of music on my [personal] harvesting soundtrack. In fact, I tried 'not' to sing it and it just wouldn’t go away, so it kind of amuses me. I have quite a collection of songs on the playlist including Waltzing Matilda, another childhood song that my sisters and I listened to repeatedly on a vinyl record until it became more crackly than musical.

I always sing aloud, hum quietly or other times sing in my head. For reasons unbeknownst to me, I sometimes choose silly childhood songs when I am outdoors. In general I sing because it is my nature and also to let animals know that I am present even though I am certain that they have picked up my scent much sooner than when they hear me.

Recently a friend from the Pacific Northwest mentioned that black bears are more of a nuisance than a threat and that one can yell and it [black bear] will leave and that it is the brown or grizzly bears that are dangerous. We have black bears here and not grizzlies, so I do not have any other point of reference. However, learning this gave me a different perspective. I know that running is the wrong thing to do [Black Bear Encounters 101]. I always imagine that I would stand on the opposite side of a tree, keeping it between us while maintaining eye contact and if it doesn’t run off, I would shout to show that I am strong and brave. And then I would most likely pray. I do ponder these situations because there is a high black bear population where I live and I am an outdoorswoman. This season I have already seen three black bears in the yard and they have helped themselves to the hummingbird nectar. This happened last month. I took the feeders in for a while until I felt that there was more natural food available to them. It seems to be working.

Besides letting the (black) bears know that I am sitting in a field or walking through the woods, I like singing because it is an opportunity to be that girl who is separate from the rest of the technologically advanced world, blending with the natural world where innocence and logic resides.

For some time, I remained outdoors, drenched in peace, listening to the rain and a few boisterous crows flying amongst swishing, slightly bending, white pines. The swollen streams hurried along almost at their fullest capacity. In addition to the wild strawberry leaves, I harvested raspberry leaves, wild roses and the beginning phases of red clover.

The scent of fresh rain, damp greens and rich soaked earth was overpowering. Any tension within me dissolved in the precipitation as it washed over me. I reached a point when it was challenging to pick because everything was clinging to my wet fingers and hands.

When a deep chill began to set in, I went indoors. I spread all the leaves, flower heads and petals on drying screens and peeled off my wet clothes. After a long, hot shower I put on my favorite, soft flannel nightgown, bundled up in a thick cotton comforter and fell asleep to the sound of rain tapping on the roof.

Journal: Babies Breath

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