Thursday, January 28, 2021

Desire Paths: Following your wild heart



It was a magical moment: I saw this witch hazel bush blooming from one block away glowing in the winter sunlight. I felt drawn towards it as if pulled by my heart strings.


Talk about fireworks! These electric pompoms are dazzling. They also have a light and heady fragrance.I was so thankful for the gardener that planted this witch hazel shrub (Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane') on a public boulevard.


At the base of the  shrub, the leaves have dropped in a neat pile, providing a lovely background to the lower branches.


The big question I'm asking myself there days is "how do you increase your capacity for forming relationships with the natural world?". 


As I go on my nature walks, I remind myself to keep my heart open for these kinds of magical encounters--to let myself have the luxury of following "desire paths" along the way. As an insect and herbaceous plant fan, I often find myself scanning the scene from eye level down to the ground, but since I've started exercising in parks, I am seeing things from different perspectives. As I kneel at the base of a tree to stretch I see small oval holes that insects have bored into the base of the tree. As I reach up to the sky to lengthen my spine I see the full height and majesty of the glorious cedar.



If I wouldn't have looked down, I would have missed the little "mouse tails" peeking out of the Douglas pine cones. If I hadn’t looked way up I would have missed the silhouette of their branches and pine needles against the sky. If I hadn’t turned my attention upwards today I wouldn’t have seen two bald eagles: an adult passing through on its way to false creek and a juvenile that perched in a nearby tree, alarming the neighbourhood gulls and crows.


I also need to keep the nattering inner thoughts at bay so I can hear what's around me: the soft mew of a spotted towee as he rustles in the leaves, the chip notes and "ring ring" of the dark-eyed juncos, and the wolf whistles of starlings. I need to take deep breaths and inhale the resinous aroma of the conifers, being careful not to wear too much perfume so I can really be aware of the subtle scent trails.



It's great to have some time walking quickly to get that heart muscle pumping, but it's also important to slow right down and examine catches your eye and piques your curiosity. You become nature's detective, deciphering mysteries and looking for clues. What's up there on that mossy roof?

How do you honour the land today? You kneel, you listen, you sniff, you wonder as you wander and you look waaaaay up, stretching your hands as if to reach for the stars.

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