Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I know now why the birds sing.

I opened my eyes, laying in bed, suddenly conscious again after a night of sleep. I never felt myself falling into sleep or waking back up. It was like a switch was flipped off the night before and then switched back on the next morning. Light was streaming through the window; morning was here. I stumbled out of bed and got dressed. As I get older it gets harder to move in the mornings. I stumbled down the stairs, walked through the living room and into the kitchen. I opened the right door of the fridge and took out a diet coke. I sat on a stool at the kitchen bar and popped open the diet coke. I slowly sipped the cold drink, not thinking yet. After I finished the soda pop I crushed the can and put it into the blue recycling box. The can rattled loudly as it joined its fallen brothers. 

I opened the door, walked out of the kitchen, closed the door behind me and stepped onto the porch. It was cool now, but the sun was already warm on my skin through the thinning fog. I knew it was going to be burning hot later. I picked up a green folding chair, walked down a short flight of wooden stairs, and stepped out into the yard. A heavy dew coated the bright green grass, soaking the front and sides of my shoes as I walked through the yard towards the field. The smell of the corn tassels in the garden filled the air as I walked past the garden and into the field. A trail lead down to the woods from the edge of the yard. I walked down the path towards the woods, each step softly jarring into the soft dirt of the path.

The grass was over my knees on each side of the path, and wild flowers of many colors and types were growing haphazard ever couple of feet through the huge field. A scent of grass and the bitter smell of wildflowers was present when the wind picked up a little bit. I sniffed in this weak scent like a dog sniffs the air.

I stepped into the woods and felt the cool dimness envelope me. The underbrush was thick at the edge of the woods, where the light could filter in, but rapidly diminished in just a few feet as I continued walking along the footpath. The birds were chirping loudly at the edge of the woods, happy to be alive. Happy to see another day. I could smell the moldering leaves from last fall as they deadened each step, crunching loudly in dry spots. The dampness of the air was cool to my skin.

I walked a minute longer, finding just the right spot. I unfolded the chair and set it under an ancient tree that has probably stood on that spot since before America was a country. It has branches like the trunks of trees, coming down to meet even larger branches that come down to meet an enormous trunk that must go down deep into the earth to the roots of the world. Its leaves fold out to guard this spot, a canopy a hundred feet across and a hundred feet high. Even at noon almost no sunlight reaches the ground here. Just the dim glow of green from 100 feet high. There is no underbrush and no small trees under its canopy. It stands like a god over a self made cathedral, more majestic in it's own way than the most noble of human creation.

I sit down and relax. The cloth chair strains and the metal frame gives a bit under my weight. Closing my eyes and breathing deeply of the sweet clean air. I let go of my worries and troubles. I let go of human concerns. I just let my mind float in quiet calmness. Like a pond in the quiet woods, untouched by ripples, its surface smooth as glass. Joy fills me. I know now why the birds sing.

After an uncounted time I got up, folded up the chair and went back to human concerns. But I carry a piece of that place with me forever.

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