Every willow leaf, aching into green from its crimson stem, offers another lovely imperfection among these millions along the round-stone bank dressing clear streams that are built of rain-seeds, all of like mind, flowing so the water knife may cut through mountains and whittle sand pebbles the ants raise into their glittering pyramid studded with blue flowers so microscopic they bring me stunned to my knees to whisper holy, holy, holy.
Why this profligate redundancy of beauties everywhere I turn—the old leaf gone to lace, the new sprout small as a comma each seed hurls toward the sky?
Birdsong, rain-glisten, snail-whirl, butterfly unfurling her spiral tongue—it must be a kind of merciless democracy of beauties voting for our attention, every child open-mouthed in wonder.
To not see this is to die a little. To not hear, not touch is to be tyrannized. To not defend this is to be complicit with sorrow, with fear, in betrayal of earth.
I say send your pleasure hungry forth to be stunned by every leaf from the crimson wand of willow aching green.
Light in Earth
The physiological and ecological function of fungal bioluminescence has not been established with certainty.
After dusk, when full dark descends, step into the forest without your light to seek the light you find: not starlight high, no mechanical shine by human cleverness, but lit fungi firing up their green glow from gloom.
From the lineage of Omphalotus, from the lineage of Neonothopanus, from Armillaria and Mycenoid, from the newly named Lucentipes lineage, begin to see fungi seeding light in darkness, bioluminescent forest denizens with lit spores ferrying their lanterns on the wind to spawn tiny twinkling kingdoms, to send their filaments illuminate into earth, carving darkness into lace.
Eager everywhere, tendrils dig their fire into duff and down, fabric embroidered with dusty luminescence deep in earth, blunt tip of each thread probing darkness, the miner’s lamp of life seeking to sip mineral clay through all interstices into collective resonance.
You’ll need the dark to see. You’ll need humility. Without not knowing how it works, how can you apprehend such silence, such soft efficiency everywhere in earth, your smudge-lit finger reaching down to touch the fruiting body damp and cold with ancient boundless vigor?
From above, old Earth offers a cartography of troubles for any long-flyer beating north or south—duck, swan, swallow, hawk, owl or wren— peering down to the red-lit blur of roads, cities bristling with blinding light, freeway web, tangle of wires tethered to slave trees, ancient marsh gone to blacktop skin, the lacy skein of the river’s former wanderings now bound in a run of fast water—but there, in a glittering seam somehow left beside the highway, two ducks freighted with fatigue find a watery remnant yet beckoning, and they veer down in a stall, fall from the sky and splash a gash into a patch of heaven.
Beside the frenzied roads, or left between fields, or in some margin forgotten by human cleverness two ducks in a ditch stitch one shred of Eden to another, and another, and another, seeking episodes of refuge for wild refugees.
In spite of all we’ve done wrong, the beauty is this for duck and swan, for fox and mouse, owl and butterfly— there are these lands yet wild in coalition that hold enough for all in knit thickets, meadows, prairies, lazy streams and brimming earth, nest of an acre, or a field, a grove, or a watershed.
Human wisdom shall be judged by two ducks in a ditch lifting off and flying high to look down on what we’ve left for them, and for our own young kin.
Where the young river broke over stones we stood captive to the small dun bird bobbing and trilling, chanting, surging song inside the booming bell where it gripped a water hump sliding over a boulder in a sheen, then peering under, splitting the flow to know below the shine what caddis crawled. It dipped and sang, we stood statue, arrested by the wild water song feathered in gray, and I felt—enough, that’s enough this life has been, coming to this.
But walking on along the frosted path the wan sun made shine, I felt the old greed come back—to feel more, to see and savor more before I slip under the lip of the visible to fly dark waters into origin.