Houston Arboretum

March 16, 2000

Houston, TX Houston Arboretum

It is a cool afternoon. Time is 1730 hours. I believe the temperature to be in the 70’s. I do not see any clouds in the sky… all were used up in yesterday’s storm.

I found such great joy in my walk to the pond. The serenity of this place balances my hectic life. Life needs balance. I watched a very small worm dangling from a silk thread climb its tether. The worm would reach up and grab a bit of silk and ball it together. Over many repetitions the worm moved less than a quarter of an inch. I watched the process for about a foot… the ball of silk no bigger than a grain of sand. I understood then how the silk of a particular species of hummingbird in South America is reported to contain enough silk thread to stretch from Alaska to the lower tip of South America and back again. If one foot of silk equals a grain of sand, then there must be about 2000 grains per mile. Multiply that by the number of miles, which I do not know, between Alaska and South America X 2. But for investigation’s sake… what would 200,000 grains of sand look like? Big enough to house a bird and a few eggs?

Behind me a cardinal chirps from a midlevel tree. Some teenagers are walking around the pond. I want them to leave. I wish for quiet so that perhaps the great egret that I’ve seen before might come by for a twilight snack. The teen’s behavior and loud noises kill the serenity at this pond. They look and wave and I wave back… whispering “leave” as I do so.

They have gone and I’ve taken a twenty minute nap under a pine tree on the edge of the pond. Now I am awake… it is 1815 hours and the sky has a tint of purple to it.

Twilight. Crickets in the brush behind me give me a constant white noise. I hear the sounds of turtles slapping lily pads (in bloom) as they slowly and clumsily make their way around the pond.

A black crow flies over the tall green grass… silhouetted against the dark trunks of the trees across the meadow. I am sitting up now and my back is keenly aware of the slight chill air as it remembers the warm nest of pine needles had during my nap. Do other parts of our “selves” remember a long ago connection with the Earth?

In the distance I hear the creaks of train cars as they are moved a few feet on the railroad tracks bordering the arboretum. I hear the screams of a fire truck and police sirens as they periodically canvass the busy urban maze. I can bring myself to become aware of the jets overhead and the loud, wholly, distant roar of the traffic.

But I shut it back out to become entertained only by sounds of wrens, a burrowing armadillo, crickets and swimming turtles. The smell of the blooming vine mixed with pine needle-littered floor is more welcome and comforting than any candle, air freshener, or potpourri I’ve ever bought. The marketed scent “country fresh” isn’t.

I hear the songs of tree frogs… utterly simple and blending in with cricket to create a backdrop of music to which the songs of mourning doves are like virtuoso violinist in an opera symphony.

I hear the call and answer of a water bird… but they are both hidden and not near the pond. I hope that it is the time that they will come to feed. This is the time that I came upon the egret once before. I hear a song from my childhood… the repeated guttural songs of two bullfrogs as they give out their loud “buh-roaaaaaan”.

The pond level is at least three feet lower than normal. The wooden platform sticks out high and dry, an oddity as it is no longer connected to the pond. So much so it has lost its purpose. Clumps of cattail and other edge water grass are scarce and dry, one to two feet up on the bank. The edge of the pond, where it is usually full of grass and is a blur… imperceptible to all but turtle eyes… is now a clear and stark boundary along a white clay bottom.

This is such a holy time. One of the falls of our awakening consciousness was the separation of man and God. As I sit here I cannot discern any point to where Nature ceases and God begins, or where my soul ends and that of God begins. It is with incredible folly and ignorance that we [perceive] ourselves as separate from the Earth.

Songbirds, once quiet for the past hour, now sing in various melodies in the hardwoods behind me. Do they celebrate the coming night? Perhaps the end of the day? Or to tell others of their kind where they are before settling in to nest for the night? I’d like to think they are gathering for the end of the day. What better way to do so than through song? And yet I cannot help but wonder if they are given an allotment of song… that must be used by the end of the day and having found themselves with surplus song they release it into the growing twilight. We would live many lifetimes before we exhausted our own allotment of song for a single day.

A gentle breeze sways the pine branch above me. I gaze upon a small spider in the center of its web. What is it that allows a spider to construct such a web which extends beyond its field of vision? That allows for migrating birds to traverse great distances? To compel a small worm to crawl up a twenty foot strand of silk? Instinct? I’d like to think it is faith. Faith is different than hope. Hope can be wrong. Hope is what we carry, what we create. Faith is below our awareness. Without faith we are truly lost.

The world is grey tinted in color. Above me is a lavender sky with a ¾ silver moon. Such beauty… it is easy to understand the moon’s impact upon our soul by its sheer beauty alone. A bat flies in sharp darts and circles above the pond.

There has been a lot of talk about American’ increasing dislike over the increase in oil prices. We are spoiled. I welcome the price hike. I used to desire a large SUV or truck… but now I am looking at eco-friendly vehicles. I want to align myself to take advantage of more friendly transportation. Bring on the hike in prices! Keep the oil companies out of the arctic. Perhaps we will re-address the demands for large and impractical SUVs, more public transportation, closer communities and less sprawl, and solar/wind power alternatives. Bring on the change!

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