In times when the human world seems to have gone crazy, I head outside for the balm of nature nearby. I always return inspired and energized, humbled, and remembering (again) that life, the capital L kind, the web of interacting species which make this planet a vibrant sphere, is an astonishingly creative and tenacious community.
Tuesday, a baby Bobcat lured me outside. Not the feline kind with four paws and a deadly pounce, the diesel kind with tracks and a bucket. (That's a selfie of me grinning as I operate the machine.)
Knowing I had yard-healing to do, my contractor had put us on the waiting list at the rental center for the MT55, a walk-behind mini-bulldozer. On Tuesday morning, Jeff got the call that the machine was ours for the afternoon. I asked if I could play.
"Sure," he said. He showed me the throttle (a lever with a range between a turtle symbol and a jackrabbit symbol!), forward and reverse, how to steer the tracks, and how to use the bucket.
And then he set me loose. So there I was in my sandals, skirt, and nice sweater (I know, I know, but I was dressed for a meeting and I was very careful), moving and dumping fill, smoothing it with the bottom of the bucket, and running the baby dozer back and forth to tamp things down.
And grinning like a maniac, because using that baby Bobcat to mend the utility-trench scar in my backyard surely is fun. (Who knew?)
When Jeff came back, I had to go to my meeting. By the time I returned, he was at work scalping turf from the front yard for my lawn replacement project, carving out the paths and patio I had outlined with fluorescent green spray paint.
I grabbed a shovel and tidied edges, cut roots, and cleaned up stray bits of turf.
By the end of the evening, the two paths and the patio were ready for gravel, and the robin mama who insisted on building a nest over the side door to the garage had figured out that the newly scraped soil made perfect worm-foraging territory.
(She was completely unafraid of the noisy mini-dozer.)
Today I led the second wildflower walk I've offered in a week. A snowy winter and wet spring have made this one of the best bloom years in decades for the high desert, and I want share this ephemeral miracle--its beauty and its balm--with as many others as I can.
Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis) dotted with sulphur yellow western wallflower (Erysium sp.) and prairie Junegrass
Including you. Here's a quick tour of what's blooming in my "nearby wild":
Bessey's locoweed (Oxytropis besseyi)
Fuzzytongue penstemon (Penstemon erianthus)--you've got to love that common name, which alludes to the furry stamen that leads bumblebees inside the flower
a fleabane (Erigeron sp.) I haven't identified yet
An annual lupine (Lupinus sp) that's only about three inches tall!
Scarlet guara or lizardtail (Guara coccinea)
And the adult bald eagle we unintentionally disturbed from her perch in a cottonwood tree on the canyon rim. Look for the white spot of bald eagle tail in front of the cliff mid-photo.
The wonder of nature--spring wildflowers, bald eagles, and all--is in just that flourishing of diverse forms of life, growing and blooming, hunting and eating, mating and dying, each in their own unique way. Spending time outside reminds us that even at our worst (and global climate change certainly falls in that column), we are not everything.
Life continues despite us. Not unchanged, but determined and creative, impelled by the need to thrive. In every corner and pocket and place.
That determined flourishing as exemplified by the myriad kinds of wildflowers blooming among the sagebrush this spring gives me great hope. Hope in the active sense, the sense of encouragement to redouble my work of spreading love in the world, of healing this battered planet and my species in the doing.
For me, that's the balm of bobcats and wildflowers, bald eagles and the miracle we call life.