Nature –

Journal Entry 10 June 2009

No shots were fired during dinner. Funny how we come to note such events. Since we didn’t appear to be in a war zone this evening we slipped into our Tevas, drove down into the lower pasture and stopped at the water crossing. A creek hike was in order. Chris had his camera slung over his shoulder. We wanted to see where the beavers and wild pigs were doing damage. Maybe spot a beaver den, see what tree fell the other night.

The water was very cold and in some places quite rapid. Footing was slippery and we slowly made our way downstream. There was little beaver evidence. A small sycamore sapling was down, cleaned sticks floating in the water at the edge near the bank.

We took the curve in the water below our house, where it is deepest and naturally creates a lovely pool to float or swim. I love this spot. A twisted gnarled tree hangs from the bluff and the ridges of the rock create little shelves to play games by seeing who can toss rocks that land and stay the highest up. It’s a hard game that I’m horrible at playing. Sounds echo here in a way that is both romantic and eerie.

The pool is directly adjacent to the edge of The Park on the bank across from the bluff. Chris’s dad, Paul, has kept this area mowed for years now. There is a little campfire ringed with rocks. A cow skull rests on a dead tree still standing, presiding over the clearing. A cairn stands where our friend Kip is buried. A small trail is cleared that leads from The Park to the rock bank and the creek. The hand push mower is in the shop so the clearing and the trail are beginning to look overgrown. Nature takes back what is Hers quickly.

We’ve seen evidence of the wild pigs in The Park. And this is where it sounds like young Michael and his buddy were shooting the last time we heard them. We followed the creek further downstream to the water gap that marks the property line. No more beaver damage, surprisingly. As we turned and headed back up stream though there was a rustle in the low growth. Just beyond the park, towards us, we saw two pigs come out of the grass and stand on the bank. Feral pigs. They were bigger than Martha but with her coloring, looking almost familiar to me. They quickly disappeared back into the undergrowth. My mother always told me growing up that any wildlife was more afraid of me than I was of them. I gather this may be true with the pigs. They’re being hunted, and killed, they must be afraid of humans.

Chris grabbed a downed limb to use as a walking stick. A pig sticker I called it, half in jest. We made our way back to the cross where the truck was parked. I suggested we go a little further upstream. We’d heard what I thought to be rooting noises a few times since sighting the pigs, but nothing more concrete that there were more.

Just around the upstream bend we saw the tree that had fallen into the water from last week. It was large and was more above the water than in it. It spanned the creek from bank to bank but a few branches had been driven through the shallow water and into the gravel bed of the creek. We ducked under and continued our hike further upstream. The wilder upstream crossing that we’d used in past years was completely gone now. Spring rains and Nature at work.

Back in the house after a quick shower to wash off anything that might have hitchhiked back on our skin and the mossy fertile smell of the creek we both were in an altered mood. Quiet and disconcerted. A funk. A grand funk. I was both a little overwhelmed by the wildness we encountered and enchanted. Questions arise. Are we to keep the area cleared and maintained? Are we to allow Nature her way and live on our little bluff alone and but in observance? Is there a balance to be stuck? What is our role?

I dislike these deep moods where I wonder if I’m supposed to have a purpose. Detest them. Visions of grand self-importance. I know people, most, believe we have a role, a dominion to rule this earth, this land. As if we are some great experiment. I’m not buying that. But that’s a topic not for this blog.

But the question of how wild we allow our surroundings to be is a good one though. We three humans share this farm with more than just our dogs, the deer and rabbit, the skunks and raccoons and armadillos. There will be wild pigs and beaver come to visit, or to stay maybe. There are many more creatures than we can ever imagine. Anyone who has read Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek or anything by Edward Abbey understands. I doubt the questions will be answered quickly, or that we’ll not waver and deliberate for the rest of our time here. It is our nature.

The above journal entry was written after rising at 4:00am. I stood on our balcony in the predawn surrounded by noise, the calls of night birds, the rumbling water of the creek below, the loud rhythmic base drum of frogs. The shadows of the trees moved ever so gently. Thousands of lightning bugs glowed, some little pinpricks blinking, some whizzing through the trees and around me. I stood naked and felt connected to it all.

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