A Message in the Branches

i’m at day four of 7 weeks at home and, even with the heat, am thoroughly enjoying the sense of being settled. Travel makes it hard for me be fully here and also keeps my stomach full of butterflies, something that i thought i’d be over by now. So far, i’ve had things i want to get done each day but there’s no rush, no deadline, no need to wear a watch. This morning, after the weekly porch gathering here at my place, i wrote a song for my nephew Caleb’s wedding rehearsal party tomorrow night (may be we’ll video it for the site), picked blueberries for an hour or so, practiced tomorrow night’s song with Gary (he’ll play banjo), and then spent most of the very hot afternoon cutting down hundreds of sweetgum trees with hand held lopping shears. i’m happily worn out just now, ready to read a bit and to quietly end a full, tiring, pleasant day.

              One thought occurred to me as i worked outside today. This time of year, snakes are something to always be on the lookout for. There are sticks everywhere on the forest floor just now and no small number of them look very snakish. More than once, i found myself jumping back at what i thought was reptile, when it was in fact only tree branch. Even dropped the shears one time and ran when i was convinced i heard a rattle. The longer i worked, the more comfortable i got, and the less vigilant i was. No, i didn’t see a snake or get struck, but it did occur to me —  as long as all the sticks look like snakes, i’ll be OK because i’ll be careful. When all the sticks look like sticks, or worse, when i stop paying attention to them at all, i’m in trouble. …  i believe Annie Dillard uses a phrase – sensible to conditions – that describes an awareness of the world around us. A little caution, in this jungle we live in day to day, is a wise state of mind. Never know what venomous thing is out there to catch us unawares.