Spring Beltane Moon
Coming north on Highway 10 (or east, I can never figure it out and I’ve lived up here 18 years) just before the big Lowe’s store, it’s no longer unusual to see cars parked along the side of the road, drivers clomping out through the high grass, camera with a big telephoto lens in hand. They’re headed toward a dead tree with a big clump of sticks in a high fork.
Kate told me she saw heads there a month or so ago. I began to look, too, and finally saw a bald eagle circling the nest, coming in for a landing, presumably with food for the young’uns. I’ve seen a head or two though I’ve never been able to suss out whether they were chicks or adults.
We hunger for peeks into the wild world, a personal glimpse of the life and times of creatures that live among us, but we rarely see. Over the last 18 years Kate and I have a great horned owl hooting at night in our woods. I’ve seen him/her once, it’s giant wingspan remarkable, yet hardly ever observed.
We have opossum, raccoon, woodchuck, rabbit, deer, coyote, skinks, snakes, frogs, pileated woodpeckers, bald eagles, great blue herons, egrets, too. These last three we see from time to time, usually in flight, though the egrets are often there, serpentine necks ready to dip suddenly into the water. The rest, almost never.
Around Christmas tree three or four years ago, back when I still fed the birds, a opossum took to visiting the bird feeder around midnight. I happened on him one night and checked back frequently after that. His small pink paws looked almost like human hands and I delighted in watching him do his opossum thing. Why? Because it was a glimpse of a neighbor, a close neighbor, one who shared the very land I claim to own, but whom I rarely–up till then, never–saw.
This takes me back to the discussion of mystery I had here a few weeks back. We do not need to imagine a world beyond the one to which we have ready access; there is a large, unimaginably large world shrouded in mystery that lives near us, with us, within us. Take the billions of one-celled entities that share our bodies, help us live our lives in return for some benefit derived from the eco-system that is our body. A mystery, certainly.
Or the baby opossum I found huddled up far inside a dead tree, doing what all prey does when confronted by snarling predators–Vega and Rigel–hiding in an inaccessible location. If Vega and Rigel hadn’t been obsessively interested in this tree, I’d never have known the opossum was there.
The morels that visited us once 18 years ago, never to return. Or, at least never to be found. A mystery. This is a revelation to us, the way for us to an original relation with the universe. And, it’s in our backyard.