Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Generosity of Geese

One evening in early August I was strolling in Stewart Park, at the southern tip of Cayuga Lake, when I spotted a couple carrying a large animal crate toward the lake shore. Intrigued, and anticipating a release of some kind, I followed and watched the following scene unfold…

The door of the crate was opened, and the couple stepped aside as they waited for whatever was within to emerge. Nothing happened. The crate was then up-ended, and out slid two young geese. (I later learned they were the outcome of a school project involving eggs). Our lake is a big lake and the geese stood as though stunned for a few minutes as they gaped at the expanse of water. Uncertain what to do or what was expected of them, they shifted from one foot to the other, and paced nervously along the shoreline. The couple settled on a log to wait for the moment that the geese would take their first step to freedom.

 In the meantime, the new arrivals had been spotted by some of our local geese gathered on the lake. A pair, apparently a mother and adolescent, separated from the rest and started to float a bit closer. Lingering about 50 feet from shore they expressed obvious interest and curiosity by establishing eye contact with the new arrivals and maintaining an open stance as they ever so slowly drifted forward. There were quiet calls. The orphans watched them for a few moments. 

Then, suddenly, the two geese on shore lifted off as one and flew low over the surface of the water to a point just beyond the welcoming pair. Upon landing they turned and swam – quickly – over to the mother and child, taking positions on either side of the smaller goose.  The youngsters appeared to be the same size and age. They looked like they belonged together. The new family turned, and quietly paddled off into the fading light.

I have sat for some time with my memories of that night, from the initial uncertainty and not knowing to the creation of a new family. As an introvert, I appreciate being approached with gentle curiosity and interest. Seeing this play out with the geese was stunning. I was especially struck by the sense of welcoming and of being welcomed. Recalling times when I have felt welcomed with a warm embrace, I have also wondered how often I am truly welcoming. There are so many examples in the world today of “us” vs “them”, of building fences, turning back and pushing away. Where do any of us truly belong? Even as a small child I remember feeling like an alien, looking around and thinking “this is not the way it is supposed to be”.

What does it say about humans that I find the highest ideals I aspire to being played out by geese on the lake shore? I'm afraid they are better at this than I am.

Their generosity of spirit continues to reach deep into my being and fill my heart with amazement and something akin to joy. Watching our native geese so simply and graciously gather in the outsiders reminded me… this is the way it is supposed to be.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Spring Gratitudes

Doors were flung open and people tumbled outside to feast on a sky unmarred by clouds and alight with a blazing sun. Sixty degrees and a soft caressing wind invited us to come out of hibernation and celebrate the end of a brutal winter. Bikes, trikes, scooters, skates and strollers rolled happily along. You could feel the solar panels sucking up the sun. Pairs of osprey wheeled overhead, calling faintly to each other. Two bald eagles flew low down the inlet, a sight so unexpected and surprising that I cannot be sure I actually saw them.

But my first gratitude blossomed yesterday, at the annual return of a pair of mallards swimming in a nearby roadside ditch flowing with the winter melt. They pique my curiosity… why the ditch, when there is a lake, a creek, and a pond within a half-mile radius? Spotting the ducks feels like a homecoming. Something in me loosens when I know they have come back, and some piece of the world swings into place. Here is the ditch where they hang out.

The second gratitude is simply relief. Warmth, unmarred by the piercing of a bitter wind.

Third – a lightness of being – no coat, or scarf, or mittens, or hat or any of the other paraphernalia required to master the winter.

Fourth… with any luck (and I won’t count on this, although I will hope) I will not have to scrape frost off my windshield until November.

So, the animals and birds are returning to their summer home and we are emerging from our winter homes into the light of day. Hallelujah.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Rousting the Mice

Recently my tremor has expanded into new territory, leaving me with the sensation of a couple of mice running up and down my arm. For the the most part this is not obvious to others and certainly not debilitating... but it is bothersome just the same. Hopeful that the stress-free atmosphere of a week's vacation would help this I was disappointed that the tremor continued unabated.

The other night as I lay in bed it occurred to me to see if imagery might provide some relief. I have a densely populated inner world, filled with various aspects of myself, as well as guides and magical beings. Sorting through the mix of characters that could assist on this it occurred to me that since I'm feeling mice racing around in my arm that I should use a mouse to help, so I called Sebastian to the foreground. He is similar to Reepicheep from Narnia. Sebastian came over, inspected the situation, then began to squeeze my arm gently. Moving upward, he crowded the mice up toward my shoulder... and when they reached the top of my arm those mice jumped ship and squirted right out of my shoulder.

Almost unbelievably, even to me, my arm was immediately still.

It is now three days later and only occasional twitches are present. A 30-second fantasy stilled an arm that had been trembling and shaking for weeks. I guess this should not surprise me since I'm an imagery guide. Yet I confess to being astounded. What else might be possible?