Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Every season has its particular stillness. For instance, the spring has a damp, heavy silence, with great energy humming just beneath it. Standing in the woods on a cool April morning feels like hovering over a sleeping toddler--feeling his breath, admiring the peaceful little body that you know is going to wake up and wreak happy havoc any minute.
The autumn stillness has none of that tension. It’s a meditative stillness, a sense that the world is calm yet focused, waiting for something that is absolutely certain to come. That was the feeling in the park this morning. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion, reluctant to disturb the trance. There was no mist on the lake, just a soft reflection of the cloudy sky and the trees turning red and gold along the shore. A great blue heron flew over with even more unhurried stateliness than usual. Herons often mutter as they fly along, as if they are talking to themselves, but this one was silent. All the other birds were quiet, too. The woodpeckers tapped halfheartedly, and the crows were cawing sotto voce.
As I walked away from the lake it started to rain, just a light sprinkle that was barely audible as it hit the tops of the trees. I stopped and looked around, listening. Everything was listening. Waiting, and wide-awake.
The Hearing Forest and the Seeing Field, Hieronymous Bosch (1450-1516)