Waiting for the Light
I knew there would be times like these, when time or inspiration would be in short supply, or when my thoughts were so scattered that I couldn’t draw them together into a coherent whole. I’m not worried, though. I made no firm commitment to a blog schedule. I know how things are, both in my world and in my brain. I want to write when I feel something there. So far, it’s worked as well as I could have hoped, especially when I have the opportunity to spend a little time quietly in the woods. I don’t want to feel forced to write, although it is natural to want to be consistent, just in case there are actual readers out there.
It seems commonplace for bloggers to announce their intentions to call it quits, take a break or change directions. Self doubt and second thoughts run rampant. Other writers simply stop and disappear, taking the road to blogger hell paved with good intentions. I was instinctively aware of these pitfalls. So, from the start, I made no promises to myself about how often or how much I would write. And besides, being a guy, commitment is scary.
Travel and other commitments have kept me from spending a morning on Moose Hill for a few weeks now, and it’s not looking much better for the next couple of weeks. It’s getting to be like missing a run or bike ride with feelings of withdrawal symptoms. I want to get back. The best I could do was take my bike to run a business errand last week, and on the way home take the long way around up and over Moose Hill.
It was a wonderfully clear and dry late summer morning. The cool wind felt good on my face and the exertion of standing on the pedals to climb the hill was invigorating. Just as the blood was rushing through my head and taking my mind to that dreamy place, I heard – or thought I heard - my peewee. This little flycatcher has been calling to me all summer. I haven’t heard him for a while, and I figured he was done calling for the season, or maybe, he had even started moving south. But there he was, calling to me.
That’s the way it was this summer. I’d find myself alone in the silent woods, or even half asleep at dawn in my bed and a bird would talk to me. First it was the wood thrush, and then the peewee started in. Now, I heard dozens of bird calls and songs, most familiar, some bringing back old memories, some prompting me to search through guidebooks to identify them. These sounds were lovely, exciting, stimulating , or even comforting. But the thrush and peewee seemed to be carrying a message.
The flute-like song of the thrush and the message he carried seemed easy to understand. It was a prompt to reflect fondly, but with the tinge of melancholy. I imagined him calling to remind me that time is short. Youth is fleeting; I had mine, it’s gone, and all I can do is hope I used it as wisely as I was able. Life is ephemeral. Times past and lives past are gone and will not be coming back. Loved ones and friends were lost, either through mortality or stupidity. Mistakes were made and it’s OK to feel sad about them. He would warble his invitation at dawn to seek him out and then again at sunset as I thought about these things, allowing me to simply feel the emotions that come with the growing knowledge that the hour is getting late.
The eastern wood peewee’s call is more enigmatic. If I could choose, this bird would not be at the top of my list of potential mystical messengers, with his cartoon-character name, small size and child-like call. But there he was, first as I ran through a warm summer rain, later as I walked through the quiet forest, and even as I bicycled up the hill. Is it a language barrier? Is he speaking clearly, but I just can’t interpret? Or, is he calling from a plane of understanding I simply cannot reach?
Sometimes on a winter Friday night with the week drawing to a close and the period of rest beginning, I’ll sit reading by the fire. With the warmth of the blaze in the stove, it’s not long before the book droops to my chest and I start to doze off. I’m reminded of the story of Kekule discovering the structure of the benzene ring while dreaming about snakes dancing head-to-tail as he slept by the fire. I sense something out there, or in this case, in here. Something nags from the back of my mind. Do I feel it, or can I hear it? Lacking the intellect of a Kekule, I can’t decode the signal. Something, someone is trying to communicate, but beyond that, I cannot grasp the message. At this point, I don’t even know if it’s a statement, a question, or a command. Maybe it’s feelings like this that turn people into seekers and wanderers. Maybe I’m on a quest and I don’t even know it yet. Maybe I’m hearing voices, and we all know exactly what that means!
The peewee gives me the same feeling. Claude Lacombe says in one of my all-time favorite movies, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” when referring to those risking their lives to climb