Friday, March 28, 2014

The Bear-facts & Mary Oliver

In my February 7th post I shared stories of my wild neighbors, "Otters & Ravens & Bears (maybe?!)". Well, the question mark can now be edited out of the title. The morning before last I was out for a stroll along the pond's edge when I came upon the "calling card" of some nocturnal visitor. I'll spare you photo-evidence since it was the sizable scat of some clearly sizable animal. And when I took the path past the barn to the upper pond, there was another "deposit". Other than the chance that my neighbor's dog had snuck across the road and that not very likely, my suspicions were quickly aroused. Back inside I fired up my laptop for an internet search of "black bear scat" (750,000 results via Google in 17 seconds...a wonder in itself!). Within a few short minutes I had confirmation that a black bear had most certainly paid Lightspring Glen a visit during the night. How incredible to think that while I slept, such a wonderful creature came by within mere yards of my bedroom window!

Just a few days before I'd received an email with Mary Oliver's poem, "Spring" accompanied by a beautiful photo of a bear. Smitten as I always am with her poetry, I'd been reading the poem aloud to myself and loving the images her words conjured. Perhaps I had manifested this Visit? Just maybe, and that makes me smile all the more.


a black bear
has just risen from sleep
and is staring

down the mountain.
All night
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring

I think of her,
her four black fists
flicking the gravel,
her tongue

like a red fire
touching the grass,
the cold water.
There is only one question:

how to love this world.
I think of her
like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against
the silence 
of the trees.
Whatever else

my life is
with its poems
and its music
and its glass cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness
down the mountain,
breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her --
her white teeth,
her wordlessness,
her perfect love.

~ Mary Oliver ~

Friday, March 21, 2014

In the Flow : Up & Downstream

View from Dragonfly Cottage

Today is the first full day of Spring, extra-marvelous for me as it's my first here at Lightspring Glen. Tomorrow, March 22nd, is the 21st World Water Day, sponsored by the United Nations. Unless you live under a rock (as the expression wryly goes), you know the several crises afflicting the waters of the Earth. Do visit the UN's excellent website to find out not only what's going on this year, but for a comprehensive look at the entire disconcerting issue and learn ways we can all make a difference.

My personal story takes me back to the five previous Springs I welcomed the Vernal Equinox from Dragonfly Cottage perched so wonderfully above the Susquehanna River. Opening the curtains each morning was to be greeted by the day's rising over the wide river flowing directly toward me, almost as if it flowed into the hill, though in truth it took a gentle bend around us in its steady flow down to the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic.

As readers of this blog know, last Fall I made my way upstream an hour's highway travel (perhaps a 2-day strenuous paddle by canoe?!) and further up along Carr Brook, then up Willow Brook, and finally a half-mile or so up a lovely unnamed stream to the ponds, waterfall, and springs here on the seven acres of my forever-home, Lightspring Glen. Up here on this hill we are on the very edge of the Chesapeake Bay's watershed. Just a short walk to the top of the rise and the waters flow off ocean-ward through the Delaware River. As the crystalline waters rise from their springs (not yet certain how many, but at least four) they create three lively brooks clattering downhill over tree roots and stones. Two flow into Upper Pond, its gentle out-flow joining the third brook and all filling Hemlock Pond that's right behind the house. I've joked that even if I'd had to live in a tent, I would have moved here in a heartbeat.

Though I arrived just before Winter Solstice and the rugged months that quickly followed, there were enough mild days for me to explore and experience these enchanted waters weaving their way across the landscape into Hemlock Pond, then merrily splashing over the waterfall and down through the Glen on the long journey to the sea. But this apparently healthy ecosystem has been under siege...there's a super-fund site literally just over the hill. I must admit it gave me pause when I first learned of it, but when research showed that the clean-up was successfully completed over eight years ago and that careful monitoring continues, making this my home was an easy decision. I'll share the details of this environmental degradation in an upcoming blog, "A Tale of Two Streams".

Tomorrow it's my intention to go out to the pond and the waterfall to offer my thanks and prayers to these waters and send blessings on its downstream flow knowing they will be multiplied by the heart-wishes of many others all along the River's course to the mighty Atlantic. I'll be guided by a wonderful ceremony shared on-line this week by the International Council of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers. [link here] If you are reading this after March 22nd, it will be no less effective or diminished by the passage of time. It is my hope that when you come to this post you'll be encouraged to offer Love and Thanks to Earth's waters at your own special water-place.
Hemlock Pond