Letting things be allows nature to manifest its will and wisdom.
With no intervention this apple blossom in my garden will manifest its will to bloom and liberate its wisdom in the form of apples in the autumn.
I am camping and I pitched my tent near an ant’s nest. It is disconcerting as I write this to watch the foraging ants by the twos and threes invading my tent through the entrance. It makes me itch and I worry for my laptop. The ants are wandering around all around the inside of my tent, though their invading numbers remain small.
The spiders taught me to let the ants be. Having spent some time evicting sixteen spiders one day from my tent, I decided to let the spiders be, it is too much trouble, more so evicting ants. Occasionally I have to intervene as I tried to evict the small frogs during a rainy night, which I chased round my tent in failing torchlight, I did not fancy squashing them in my sleep. Generally it is too much trouble forcing my will upon unwilling animals and plants who want to express their own spirited natures in the spaces I share with them.
Non-intervention is a growing interest of mine, letting things be, to flow according to their own will. Sustainability for me is about action in harmony with nature, so if there is no harm to me, why force my will upon animals and plants? Indeed, the doors of wisdom open wide if I allow nature to flow in its own liberated way; a bee flew to my foot and then away into a crack in the ground, thus I learn I have a small bee nest in the garden.
Sharing with nature.
Blackbird in song.
Each morning in the last week I start the day writing a blog post that appears one or two days ahead, it is Sunday. I sit as the cat Pebbles washes herself in another seat, I think I shall put names on the seats: “Alex’s seat”; “Pebbles seat.” Pebbles is now enraptured with a plump pigeon walking around outside the window, her ideal breakfast.
I no longer cook, something I have not done for over four months since the fried puffball I foraged by a river. The morning breakfast consisted of sardines, milk, digestives and a Scottish drink called Irn-bru.
I usually crumble one digestive and scatter it on the grass in the garden, an offering to the birds. This morning there appeared in the trees both a female and male blackbird who took an interest in the digestive I had scattered upon the grass. There were other blackbirds on a shed roof behind conifers, at least two young fledglings that the parent blackbirds were feeding, taking bits of biscuit to them. I scattered more digestives upon the ground, so sharing breakfast with a family of blackbirds until they were no longer hungry, vanishing to their home nearby.
Do action in harmony with nature.
I attempt to accommodate other living things in my actions, including snails.
After two weeks of drought, it rains. The snails sail forth en masse in the darkness, it is mating time. In my ignorance I fail to see the snails, three die before I cast my torch-light upon the silent population on the ground, but not before a fourth dies on the grass that my torch-light did not see. Thus the light of wisdom shines forth in my mind as my torch picks up the invisible living creatures before me, that after rain in the darkness snails will seek to mate, and I must with greater care place my feet.
Earlier in the day I walked past a dead pigeon, the latest casualty of billions of animals that die from collisions with vehicles on the roads. It takes hundreds to thousands of years for animals and plants to adapt to changing environments, changes that are often slow in coming, but they are unable to adapt to the fast changes of humanity, the motorcar invented a hundred years before, followed by car parking and roads that cover former living grounds of nature in tarmac.
Animals such as the snail and pigeon only understand a part of their world, one born of instinct, unfamiliar to the ways of humanity. It is for humans with their greater understanding of the world we share with plants and animals to adapt and accommodate the living things around us, for they are unable to, and they suffer from our indifferent attitudes. It is for me to place my feet carefully in the dark after rain, for the snail has no ability or understanding of the dangers of my feet to them. I define sustainability as action in harmony with nature, and so I must harmonise my actions with the snail to tread with care so that snails may live.
Treasure is not always gold.
Inattention and carelessness risks the loss of the essential.
I sit in the middle of Colchester, people watching. A father and son stop, the father abandons the son on the sidewalk to enter a shop to gamble money on a horse race. The son is about 3-years-old and calls for his father, he tries to push against the shop door, but it is too heavy.
In my imagination multiple dangers lurk, the boy could be abducted, the pushchair could roll into the road into the path of a car, or the child walks into the road with the same result. I dislike intervention, so I watch and wait. The father eventually leaves the shop, the father-and-son go on their way. The unwise father is oblivious to the precious treasure he risked the loss of by leaving his son on the sidewalk alone as he pursued the fools delusion of treasure won on horse races.
All things have their place of belonging.
My early morning alarm clock.
I was camping in the garden this morning, I awake by the banging of a fence, then something heavy lands on top of the tent, then the animal heads noisily for a nearby tree. My organic alarm clock is next seen on top of the shed as I irritably stick my head out of the tent to glare at the pigeon. Time flies, I slept through the night without waking. It is before 7am.
I water my three oak saplings, the curled leaves firming like the sails of a windmill in the early morning sun. I water ten pots of soil, the invisible locus of ten acorns that I despair may never awaken.
I find the container for a bird bath, fill it with water and place it on the bird bath. All things have their belonging, the container and bird bath are once more reunited after a long absence for enjoyment of birds. I reunite random scattered pots together in their collective home.
It is crazy that one is so happy about fox poop, but the evidence near the oak saplings tells me Amber the fox is around. I am working out if a location behind the fence is a fox burrow, a tennis ball is at its entrance, a fox chew toy? I placed a digestive biscuit at the entrance yesterday to see if it would vanish, the biscuit appears to have gone. To be certain I place two more digestive biscuits at the entrance, I will wait until tomorrow to see if these too will vanish**. Perhaps Amber has found a place of belonging behind my fence. I crush a third digestive and scatter it on the grass, the birds seem delighted.
** I wrote this article yesterday, the two biscuits vanished in the night when I checked them this morning.
Life is only in the moment, why waste life?
You are like a beautiful rose, but like all roses your bloom will fall away and you will die.
There is a vase of roses and lilies behind the laptop as I write this which are showing the signs of their last bloom. I purchased the flowers for someone two weeks ago, and they blossomed over those two weeks to a magnificent perfuming bloom. The flowers are dying now, a reminder that all things are temporary and impermanent.
In nature I see life and death happening all the time. I see the broken egg-shell, discarded remains of a new life that has entered this world, the mother bird dumped the shell away from the nest to keep the nest clean. I see the dead bird the cat Helix dumped on the kitchen floor. I see in the garden under the lens of my camera the bloom of flowers of one species, which a time later dies away, replaced by another species of flower. Nature reminds me of that harsh truth that I shall die, the hidden blessing to live each moment of life.
Two stories in the media expresses how fragile life is: a baby which went to sleep in its fathers arms died suddenly in its sleep; a ship sinks in South Korea, a student sends their last text message: “This might be the last chance to say I love you.”
Nature provides a dramatic theatre if only people can see it.
I witnessed a dramatic moment of natural theatre as a blackbird mother protected her young against a giant magpie. Only I saw this free theatre, the rest of humanity was blind to it.
It is a beautiful place in this Colchester square, the great water tower to my right, the Mercury Theatre in front, the many restaurants to my left. Upon this seat, near blinded by the sun, a hot laptop, and another free wi-fi point, I take a temporary rest to enjoy a moment in the sun.
It is the Easter holidays, and many people parade past me, the children with their parents. I like people watching, but I also have the sense of nature around me. Sadly most of these people who walk by me live in a different world to me, they live in a world of facts, figures and material concerns, they are blind to the nature around them. It is a blessing that I stand between two worlds, like the statue of Mercury who proudly runs atop the Mercury Theatre. I see both the mundane world of humanity and the organic world of nature, both worlds wash over me like waves of the sea.
Nobody but I saw the battle that came about behind my seat. The sudden commotion of a chattering female blackbird as a magpie appears. There is a dramatic moment as the blackbird dive bombs the magpie that is twice its size, the magpie flees. The theatre for humans in front of me, the theatre of nature behind me. My intuition tells me there is a nest nearby, the eternal story of the mother defending her young.
Can you love a wild animal?
Amber the fox, happy to just be.
Do you remember a special event, perhaps a birthday? Are you excited when you anticipate the event, and if there is a mystery, even better? It is the same for me these last few mornings, will I see her again? I speak of Amber the fox who adds to my excitement of getting up in the morning.
I think I am in love, if that is the right word. Can you be in love with a fox? It has only been the last few days the elusive creature has stayed around long enough for me to observe and photograph her. My friend thinks Amber is pregnant, so my imagination sees fox cubs running around my garden in a few months.
I love the floppy ears of Amber, her pensive sad and shy eyes. She is beautiful in a sort of magical way, fragile, naïve and caught between trust that she is safe and the wary nature of a creature living in a dangerous world. She desires the warmth of the sun rather than the cold darkness of her den situated I think behind the garden fence.
Since the two days I photographed her sitting in my garden, I look out for her. Yesterday she was not there, and I felt a twinge of loss. I saw her today sitting amongst the fallen branches of a conifer tree, watchful, that same enchanting expression. I feel her fragile presence, something small in the vastness of the universe, insignificant and tiny against the multitude of enemies arrayed to destroy her. If it is true that she carries fox cubs, it adds to the enchanting mystery, something waiting to manifest into the universe, little fox cubs that may one day play in my garden.
Concentrate on what is essential, nothing lasts.
Busy people running in circles, fail to see the essential in life.
As I sat in Colchester Castle Park I noticed a 3-year-old boy and his mother passing by. The boy in delight pointed to a spiderweb, but his mother busy with a smartphone ignored the boy. Many times the boy mentioned the spiderweb, and each time the mother ignored him.
Forty years from now I doubt mother or son will remember this spiderweb incident that I record. I doubt even if the mother will remember what it was she was doing on her smartphone at the time. It could be that the mother was dealing with an important matter on her smartphone when her son drew her attention to the spiderweb, but often as is the case with smartphones it was a trivial issue. What matters was an opportunity lost where mother and son could have shared a magical moment of delight in a spiderweb, a moment that could have stayed with the mother as a magical memory into old age.
Impermanence is a fact of life, nothing lasts, thus the smallest moments shared like between that mother and son become like treasure, sadly wasted to worthless distractions such as Facebook updates via smartphone.
The fox returns and I give it a name: “Amber.”
I have now called the fox in this photograph “Amber.”
The fox returned to my garden this morning, perhaps taking a liking for the warm sunny spot it enjoys sitting in. I have named the fox Amber, and it allowed me to take more photos of it.
The fox reminded me about a blog post I wrote more than a year ago about a book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery called “The Little Prince” which has an encounter between the prince and a fox on the subject of friendship. I purchased the book today described as follows:
“The Little Prince is now a legendary character, the symbol of a humanity that is responsible and generous, bringing a message of hope and fraternity, emblem of a spirituality that seeks out the essence of things, that which lasts, that which gives meaning.”