Monday, June 13, 2011

Beauty and Pain

     Our blog name may suggest that I’m enjoying the changes that are happening all around me, but only for nature do I welcome them.  Maybe I’m just one of a few because I realize how much a part of nature I am, nourished by the food I eat, the water I drink and the air I breathe. 
     As a nurse’s aid in my younger days and a hospice volunteer now, I have watched patients fight to breathe their last breaths and I have seen and felt death against my lips as I kissed my first real boyfriend one last time while he laid to rest in his casket.  Some may say it's morbid and I'm not so sure I would do the same today knowing how cold and hard his lips felt against mine, but at 16 I only knew I wanted to say goodbye to someone I loved.  The beauty of our memories together made me forget the pain as I knelt over him.
     Today I don't relish dying but I certainly don’t want to think about living in a dead world.  I wake often to hear the birds singing and every season it’s a different song.  I get out of bed knowing that in nature I’ll see beauty and feel pain throughout the day.  I realize I'm living now through collapse and I see the differences taking place before my eyes and I feel the pain as if it was my own.
    Two Big Leaf maples right off our patio provide shade in the hot summer months, though not many  anymore.  They were the selling point for me when we bought the house, reaching high and wide I knew we would welcome their shelter.  Many evenings before dinner we relax under their arms full of birds singing their different tunes.  Though still beautiful, it’s pathetic to see how they’ve changed.  I remember a few years ago when looking up all I could see was green.  The canopy now is half the fullness and the leaves are smaller and fewer.  Once we noticed the color change, now they quickly turn from green to brown and fall.  Even in their pain they still offer compost to the garden where they’re laid to rest.  Though hurting, nature continues to shelter us and provide us with life.
    Herbs that return every year vibrant and strong offer us medicinal qualities in a variety of ways.   This week I harvested comfrey to make tea for the vegetables and salve for our aging bodies after a hard days work.  It made a nice addition to my medicine chest alongside the cayenne and arnica salves.  I ought to call it my Marley shelf with jars of red, green and yellow.
    Yesterday I noticed our large Oriental Poppy began to open it’s salmon colored paper flower to display a deep burgundy inside and the Iris’s are beginning to share their beards of purple on white.  I also spotted our first swallowtail butterfly swooping through the garden not planning on staying anywhere for too long and the swifts are back flying through the air like torpedoes hitting their targets as they catch the meal of the day.
    The bees no longer need their sugar water as the berries are beginning to bloom.  Even some of our turnips, rutabagas, and kale from last fall are flowering now and their beautiful yellow flowers are attracting their attention.  How interesting the taste of honey will be.
    For the last four years we’ve had babies in the birdhouse which is now about 20 years old.  It was a gift that David made me for Mother’s Day complete with shingles for the roof.  I still remember it hanging from a small wooden fence around our backyard in the suburbs of Denver.  I never thought I’d see birds in it there as it hung just a few feet from the ground, but I did, though it took years for the paint to weather and the birds to feel at home.  This past Christmas David made me another from a gourd we grew.  Its psychedelic paint job will hopefully attract something colorful.
    While I see beauty all around me, I feel pain.  While some view collapse from the eyes of the artificial world I see horror on the ground and in the sky above.  I watch from knees in the garden planes spreading their white trails overhead contaminating food and soil.  More of them every day, I can’t wait till the day they disappear over the mountains never to be seen again.  That’s hard for me to say since I had always hoped to travel more. From just months old until I was 15 I visited England seven times, once every other year while my grandparents were living.  Now I watch memories on a disc made from 8mm film of my Granddad holding me while watching ships on the Portsmouth Harbor.  I doubt if I’ll ever get to see my cousins again, some I’ve yet to meet.
    Sadness does try to overtake me sometimes but not before guilt takes hold.  We were given such a beautiful home in nature and it matters little of what I want anymore.  I only have to look out the window as I write to see the pine trees dying while standing up, a walk up the road shows signs that we humans cannot live within the limits of nature.  Old tires, rusty bedsprings, and thousands of red plastic Remington caps lie abandoned on the side of a dirt road where others have entertained themselves or maybe they’re preparing to protect and defend, time will tell.
    It’s unfortunate that some can no longer see the beauty before their eyes and the only pain they feel is self-inflicted from the artificial world.  I embrace living every day some more than others but I notice all I can while I sometimes laugh and cry at the same time.

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