Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Celebrations . . .

Elizabeth, this post is for you. You have written to me that you love when I talk about the land, and you gave me more money than anyone at my fundraising event for my class for families and nature, and I watched you . . . you were rapt and attentive. Your attention never waivered as I talked about the years I have spent researching and teaching about nature. I celebrate you.

This day I am 46 years young and as a gift to myself I head out onto the land early. As usual, I am instantly rewarded for my effort. Unlike many people, I like winter. I like the cold, and the frost, and the snow, and seeing the trees without their leaves against the winter sky. On this day, before 9 am, I head down to the flood plain along one of the Belvedere loops. Almost instantly, my mood lifts as if someone had come beneath my anxiety and fear and gently shifted them into joy. The frost on the plants glistens in the sun like so many jewels. I remember in Vermont sitting in rapture at the glistening of jeweled snow in the sun. In my world, bad weather is rare; what is more common are bad gear and bad preparation. Oh for the glory of winter!

I run down along the trail jumping over icy puddles and streams. The flood plain opens before me and my heart flutters when I see the plants of the plain outlined in frost; it is an icy harvest. I frolic. I run down along the road to river and as I come around the corner I run into a huge pile of white feathers. White feathers? This is obviously a kill site and one whiff of the feathers tells me a red fox plucked his prey here. Not a swan; a chicken! A roasting chicken at that, but where from? I marvel at the pattern of red fox; I often find kill sites in the middle of the road from canines like the fox and coyote, and their scat as well. I run on with a handful of white smelly feathers. As I run, I smell the red fox here and there. Their scent is very musky, like a skunk. It is especially strong around the Zone.

The cold ground makes purchase on the steep hill up from the Zone easy. As I run home along the sewer line, they are there! Tracks! When I see the strong outline of raccoon tracks, every detail of their human-like front paw I whoop with joy, pitter pattering about looking at the patterns in the frosty mud. A broad wing hawk calls right beside me and I look up and marvel at the huge raptor just above my head. It flies off calling. I continue to explore the tracks, here raccoon, there deer, here some red fox. Whoop, whoop, whoop! My heart feels three times bigger.

I run on home to celebrate. Today is my birthday and I give myself a gift of going outside. I say I am 46 years young. Not many would say I look like I am approaching 50. It is nature, I say, nature and fun and kids, and following my passions. I recently came across a book by Byrd Baylor, one of my favorite children's authors called I'm In Charge of Celebrations. I quote:

Last year
I gave myself
One hundred and eight
celebrations --
Besides the ones they close school for

This remarkable small book details how we can celebrate our lives all the time in many small ways.

I celebrate the frost and sun
I celebrate the fox and his kill
I celebrate the raptor and her call
And the tracks in the mud
I celebrate the trees without their leaves
against the November sky
And I celebrate you Elizabeth, for believing in me

Mitakuye Oyasin



Anonymous said...

I check your Belvedere site weekly and this last post was touching and I know you know why- Thanks for keeping me focused on whats really important during this time of year. Bill

Elizabeth said...

Wow... I am completely in awe! That was just beautiful and I am so honored! Thank you for that wonderful post Kate, and for remembering me. =)