A little taste of Eden to help us cope here in the insane asylum

Sunday night, November 24, 2013
Now the mountains are pitch black–the last reflection from the setting sun all gone. Even the shapes of trees look solid, almost human, like black giants lumbering toward me.Looking toward Matilija Canyon, the sky is a pale blue-white light; toward Lake Casitas the horizon is a polluted orange-gold. I stand stone still, holding the quivering Chico against my chest, and wait for the evening stillness to descend. The bigger dogs know my habits; they don’t worry about why we don’t hurry home, but lie still in the weeds.

I turn around and lean back over a boulder whose shape is perfect for looking up at the sky. At first the barely light sky looks empty, but then I notice the black shapes of formations of birds speeding overhead–perfectly aligned groups of five or more, sometimes a row of three . . . and a few lone birds aiming to catch up. I can see the white flecks on their wings, and they keep coming and coming . . . I sit up and try to see if they land nearby, but they vanish in the air.

420152_10150741781489703_1319035889_nFor a moment the evening silence is broken by an airplane, buzzing like a foreign monster overhead. This triggers a deep-time  memory . . . my ancient, primitive brain remembers the past–the long-ago past beyond this brief flicker of a lifetime . . . and something in me also has an imaginary inkling of the future. 

But, here in the present, lights are going on in nearby houses, and poor little shivering Chico wonders why we don’t get moving and go inside. I tell myself that if it were not for the dogs I might still be meditating on that rock, but, truth be told, I’m hungry and my mortal stomach calls.As we walk the few steps home, my noisy modern brain hears the first crickets. If you’ve heard that amazing recording of the chorus of crickets slowed down, then you know their song is a celestial sound . . . a little taste of Eden to help us cope here in the insane asylum.

 

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