Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Winter Prairie: A Meditation

At first glance, the space seems barren, the grasses brown and brittle, nothing moving against the sky. It is a moment of quiescence, of held breath. Waiting. The trees look stark. This small spot of land, a tiny scrap of remnant prairie, has always been welcoming before. Now it seems empty.

Where has the past gone? How much does the land remember? The time when this homestead was populated is long past; even longer, a time when the long grasses stretched to each horizon. What will be in this spot one hundred years hence? And if this last sliver of prairie is also gone, will someone, for a moment, be shaken from their cage of glass, cement and steel, and sense the sacred force of the soil beneath them?

A flock of birds flies from the ground, like autumn leaves in reverse, as brown and white as the grass against the snow: American tree sparrows.

Like the simple man's Ozymandias, the collapsing buildings ask us to think of those who left so little of themselves behind: fragile wooden buildings, now collapsing. And yet, there is something about the curve of the path that encourages us onwards. The path is everywhere if we know where to look for it. If we want it to, the prairie in all its seasons can live inside of us.

No matter how many times we walk this path, the bridge is always yet to be crossed.

The window bangs and rattles in the wind, shaking me from my reverie. For a moment, the clatter makes me wonder if I am not alone. Does the wind count? The grass? The quiet warm presence of the wintering birds? If we just look around us, are we ever alone?

The roots of this tree must descend all the way to the pulsating core of life. Beneath the winter prairie is the promise of renewal. Behind the quietude is the noisy resurgence of spring. Every time I come here, I see something different.

This time, what I saw I did not notice with my eyes. Even blanketed by winter's silence, the ground here hums with the sacred. Every time I come here, I know that I am home.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful post; it's a poem! The photos are beautiful, too. I'm inspired to take photos of the so many old farms-gone back to the woods up here. Although the soil is so marginal for farming, and I love that the forest has come back, with all of its attendant wildlife, I still feel sad for the people who worked and lived so hard, trying to make their farming dream come true. The UP is full of ghosts. Mom