Yes, lots happening. It’s Spring. You know. Same for so many of you.
Among a lot of other good things, the final editing of The Last of the Living Blue is underway, and we’re now completing the Afterwards. This may be part of it. And even if we cut it, I would like to share this with you now.
I’m down at the building site where the snow from the latest storm just melted and the clay of the cut open earth sticks to my boots like concrete. The foundation is poured. When the ground dries and cement cures, we’ll be back at it. Next with the logs which have sat dormant for the remainder of winter awaiting their fate. Becoming home.
At my feet is a gosling. A fluffy yellow and grey critter that at only a few days old swims across the creeks I jump. He showed up in the middle of the work site when we were setting forms. With a steep cliff down to the river on three sides, and the gravel road and torn up ground on the forth, how did he end up here, on this high harsh bluff above the Rio with no sign of other geese close by? Forrest heads off to explore the ravines and finds no potential parents, siblings or nest.
You don’t want to interfere. You want to let the wilds be wild. But you can’t just turn your back, walk away, knowing what its fate would be. I think that’s why they make babies so cute. You’re going to do all you can to care for them. Against all logic and principles and belief in non-interference. How do you draw the line at compassion? You don’t. So you have a baby goose in your house and find yourself cutting dandelion greens and walking to feed the horses very, very slowly so the little guy can keep up.
A friend tells me it must be a sign. Neither of us know what he might symbolize but you get the feeling it must be something, for some reason, for you can’t help but wonder why here? Why now? After having him in our lives for several days and becoming rather attached to the little stinker, I’d say the message he brings us probably has something to do with patience, love, slowing down and nurturing. He sleeps between Forrest’s feet at meal time and when I don’t feel like walking so slowly, Bob’s got him on his lap when I head out to take care of chores. I swear your blood pressure drops when he chirps sleepily on your lap.
I don’t have time for this, I want to say. Grinding chicken food, picking greens, carrying him about and cleaning up after him. Make time, my friend says. I know. She’s right. So there he is now, tucked into my vest, cheeping softly while I write.
Another May comes, is almost gone. The foundation for our home is laid. Concrete in the earth. A sense of permanence, wanting, needing to belong. These are my roots. Solid, grey, thick footers. Something to hold me down, connect me further with the land. Something to remain long after I am gone, my son and his family, generations thereafter. Long after the scattered seeds of the blue spruce turn into a forest of new growth, and the new some day turns old.
This season has been one of strewn spring snows. The river roars rich and brown and the reservoir is higher than I have ever seen it. It feels healthy. The grass on pasture is already lush enough that the horses hesitate when I call them in for hay. We no longer talk in terms of drought and fire bans and fear of lightning. We think we’re off the hook. It’s over. Long gone. The treed hillsides even look green. Am I seeing things? Sometimes we see what we want to see.
The season begins. Traffic on the road (well, at least a few motors a day), summer homes dusted out, smoke from other chimneys, voices at the trailhead. Even the UPS trucks drives in (and once again, a welcome sight).
I feel lost and need to find myself again. It is hard after a winter of silence and solitude. I try. I want to try harder but then find myself worn thin because I’m so tired of trying and I am left wishing it would all come naturally and it never does.
There is an emptiness and detachment that comes over me as I lose the voice of the trees around this time every year when the air is filled with people things.
I think of the conversation I had with a colleague last week who tells me he finds equal beauty in man and nature, and is fascinated by the precarious balance and blending between the two. A relationship, a dance of life.
Why can’t I see the beauty in this interconnection? Why do I too often see the fault?
Finding balance in this land of extremes.
A walk through the trees to Sweetgrass Meadow and I’m looking for the truth. I’m looking for answers. Is it over?
I stop to rest, sitting on a fallen tree alongside the edge of a small clearing. If you look up to the top of the north facing slope, it’s a hillside of grey and brown blue spruce. Down at the edge of the clearing, many trees are still green.
Here, I am close. In them. With them. Among my beloved blue spruce. I sit silently, look closely.
Behind green needles, I see clear fresh sap dripping from slipping bark like so many tears.
Has it ended? This wrath of beetles that devastated our forest. Has it finished its destruction?
Is the drought over? Is the aquifer refilled? Fire danger a thing of the past? I know the million acres of dead trees won’t return to life, but what about the ones left living? And what about the beetles? After such a mild winter, I wonder.
I want to believe it’s over. The spruce trees around the ranch and at the edge of the opens meadows across river are still green. I have not yet seen a bark beetle. With all this moisture, this beautiful spring, surely everything will be okay, I tell myself.
If I am to have blind faith, I shall find it in the wind and wilds.
23 thoughts on “After words.”
I love the image of the gosling tucked into your neck! What a sweetie. Both of you.
Thanks, Teri. I didn’t know how much a little wild thing needs affection, but he craves it. What a cutie this guy is – and a mess!
There was a racing pigeon that got lost and stopped here last week. She was beautiful and kind of fun to have around but also very messy. Pooped all over our porch, her favorite place to roost. We found a pigeon keeper across the valley and Ken caught her and took her to live with her kind.
Not quite as easy with a baby, Teri, but I swear, just as messy.
D’ja ever see the movie “Fly Away Home”? Oscar nominee 1966. They had to teach the goslings to fly! If no parent to watch, they “pattern” to YOU and think they’re human. Enjoy!
That is a great movie and based on a true story if I remember correctly…Gin you guys should really try to watch it one night! (you know, in all your spare time this summer! LOL)
Can’t you see us all, Karen, snuggling up down at the Little Cabin … with the goose to watch it! Truth is, I think I saw it years ago when Forrest was little and loved it.
All of your photos are great, but the next to last one in this post is outstanding!
Thank you, Shelly. Though always beautiful here, that was an exceptional morning.
I always love reading about your life and seeing the beauty of the place through your photos. I love the pic of the gosling cuddled in your neck :-)
I really enjoy times of quiet solitude and the beauty of nature, especially the ocean or other bodies of water. However, I could not live as you do. I get cabin fever in my apartment if I don’t get out once a day, even if only to walk around the complex.
There is so much I want to say about this post that I can’t even find the words! Just beautiful! Love the photo of Norman and I laughed at Carmichael eyeballing the gosling. And I cannot wait to see the reservoir! It’s been so low the last few years.
Yay! To every beautiful thing in this post, the celebration of a poured foundation, a book almost complete, your mountain in full morning glory, and that gosling, oh my. When ever we don’t have “time” for something, it is a lesson, isn’t it. Sounds like you have a new family member and you are a mother, yet again. How sweet and fluffy, and I totally agree. There is a reason babies are so cute, they are SO MUCH work, they wouldn’t make it otherwise, no matter human or fluffy goose.
I like that you got that part about me being a mother all over again, Carrie! A lovely young woman with two little boys was with us yesterday, and seeing her hold her boys after dinner, I realized how important that feeling is. No, a goose is not the same! But dang, that nurturing thing is strong, isn’t it?
Gin, this is such a wonderful telling of your thoughts, concerns, hopes, and search for understanding. Your love for critters is just awesome. Your photos are just a gift. Glad to learn that water is plentiful and is renewing the earth there.
Thank you, Al. From the heart, indeed. Sometimes I think people who are kind enough to read posts (and books!) may forget that their words, responses, and comments mean so much to the writer. Thank you for taking the time to do so, Al.
Be thankful it’s just a gosling…….My friend just adopted an orphaned baby skunk!
OMG! Yes, thankful indeed! Now that’s a wonderful mama!
I have an 8 month old that crawls around following me everywhere, cries out if he can’t see me and is very snuggly…. and is very messy too… And extremely demanding. He is just not very fuzzy… :) I can relate to the feelings of I could go so much quicker and get something done if I did not have to carry you around or watch your every move, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world!!! I love being a mommy. Oh and then my 2 year old… Phew ;) I love this post!! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you Beka. Yes, how much more productive we would be – and as we both learn – what matters more? And then we find ourselves quite content in the process of nurturing. Strange but beautiful side of.. what would it be? Not just motherhood, because men can be like this too. And not just human beings, because all creatures can feel the same. And although this little stinker might currently be almost as much work as an eight month old, the intrinsic value is incomparable. No matter how we love all creatures, the love for our children is greater than any other. It’s just that, since my son hasn’t followed me around in years (funny thought) and I’m still a ways away from a grandchild, my nurturing finds its place, misplaced as it may seem.
Gin, exactly! Very well put! You are good at putting the words out that I feel but don’t know how to say!
GIN, I FEEL THE GOSLING IS A MESSENGER FROM GREAT SPIRIT TO TEACH YOU TO SURRENDER AND TO TRUST AS THIS PRECIOUS CREATURE IS TRUSTING YOUR FAMILY…TRUST IS A CHALLENGE FOR MANY OF US WILD CREATURES…THE GREAT MYSTERY-GOD-THE CREATOR LOVES US ALL.
PERHAPS THIS BABY WHO HAS ADOPTED YOU ALL IN FULL TRUST WILL GROW TO MATURITY, FIND A MATE AND RETURN TO YOU YEARLY TO RAISE THEIR BABIES
THIS HAPPENED TO ME AT RIO TROCOMAN. THE GANDER WOULD EAT FROM MY HAND WITH HIS BABIES WATCHING.
ONT DAY WHILE I WAS SLEEPING ON THE SAND BAR , WHERE YOU OFTEN HUNG OUT….I AWOKE AND ALL 9 GOSLINGS WERE QUIETLY WAITING, ALL TRUSTING ME…I WAS SO HONORED AND THANKFUL…THE PAIR RETURNED EVERY YEAR TO RAISE THEIR FAMILY…DID YOU MEET THEM? THE GANDER WAS KNOWN TO ATTACK UNANNOUNCED VISITORS AND NEARLY KNOCK THEM OFF THEIR HORSE…A TRUE GUARDIAN….I WAS BLESSED AS YOU ARE FOR YOUR GOSLING NOW.
I HAVE MORE STORIES OF THE INCREDIBLE LOYALTY OF 2 DOMESTIC GIFTS OF EASTER DUCKLINGS MY LITTLE SISTER AND I RAISED AND NURTURED FOR YEARS. OTHER FOWL AS WELL…ALL GIFTS FROM THE CREATOR TEACHING US TO TRUST AS THEY DO.
LISTEN GIN AND GINNY…IN LOVE AND TRUST, FROM THE VIRGINIA IN ARGENTINA
Oh!! How delightful to have that little gosling shadowing you! Imprinting…a fascinating concept! We think we have pets….I’m sure that pets think they have people! We’ll be in your neck of the woods, quite literally, in 2 weeks time…anxious to see our friends, the ranch – a new cabin going up there, too! – anxious to see what you have seen since last summer and to decide to see the hopefulness in it. A friend was in the Tattered Cover today…I told him to look for your book! I haven’t yet read it, but what you share on this blog is enough to know I’ll enjoy it, and I imagine he will, too! Good luck with your new found feathered friend!