Good morning, new year. I have no resolutions for you. No full-throttled ambitions. It doesn’t feel like that kind of year. It feels like a year for learning what kinds of flowers were planted over the past two to three years. It feels like a year for paying deeper attention, for feeding what’s already afoot. I don’t know that I’ve ever been in quite this spot. It makes me feel relieved and surprised (oh, this is what healthy is?). It makes me nervous (am I really not looking for new ground? really?). It makes me grateful yet curious (the world is so uncertain and unfair right now, but in my little corner of it, I've carved out something healthy and whole, at last... and I don't want to take for granted that the two are colliding like this).
Yesterday we walked the land, the home we're building. In the middle of the meadow that stretches in front of our future house, we came across a forgotten bird's nest. I don't know what kind of bird had made this nest or the type of bush the nest had been so carefully attached to. The land is another kind of neighborhood where I don't know many of the neighbors yet. I know the hawk, the heron, the willows, and the bur oaks best so far. But it's a meager knowing for now, and every time we walk, I learn how much I don't know. (I'm guessing I'll never know the land completely, if I'm lucky.)
There were three white eggs inside the nest. They were whole but brittle, chipped in one spot. Things often come in threes on this land. The young sugar maples in our front yard have grown together as an inseparable trio. The black willows near the creek are the same. I call them the three sisters. Three oaks stand just outside what will become our west-facing library windows. Three pines along the south wall of our future house. And three eggs in this nest, unhatched and cradled in snow.
The image of the nest has been floating in and out of mind since yesterday. I wonder what happened to the mother. It's an exposed spot in the middle of the field. Did she feel like she was taking a risk by building there? Did she die or did she abandon the nest for some reason? And how long before the eggs might have made it?
I want to say something here about the reality that some things get abandoned. Some things aren't meant to be carried into the new year. Some things won't wake up when the snow clears. The bird's nest is uncomplicated about it. We (humans) like to complicate things even as we know they're dying. But this is one way the land makes me feel a little ashamed of myself... how I walk with her looking to turn her into something else. Even as I try to protect her and follow her lead, I am turning her into raw material for myself. I visit the willows and they say, "Don't pretend to be wise."
The only counterweight I have to pretending is practice. I'm not sure what it looks like yet, but I know that I want this year to be a year of practicing deeply and generously... especially with land, especially in my writing.
a writing prompt for you
If I let this go unhatched...
currently reading & reflecting on
- Sharon Blackie's sequence of posts, Grey Heron Nights. I'm about to start reading these, as I've been setting aside some thoughtful time to indulge in them! Holiday socializing really swallowed a lot of energy this year for this introvert...
- A series of posts by Dana of The Druid's Garden on establishing sacred land. As we begin the relationship with our land here in Michigan, I've been eager to find practices, thoughtful rituals, and ways of being with/honoring the land. It's a spot where I feel a little rootless in terms of tradition and belonging... the land is sacred to me and a huge part of the creative/spiritual space I want to hold going forward, but I don't currently belong to a tradition that might help me move with more intention. Dana's writing is the most grounded and practice-rich I've found so far as I keep working on this.
- Muriel Rukeyser's poem Elegy in Joy - feeling like she's one poet I'm meant to spend more time with in 2018, as her words keep popping up a lot, and always with that hello-kindred-spirit feeling