I was walking to the mailbox to send a card. My phone was in my pocket–gone are the summer days when we would walk empty pocketed, wandering possibly anywhere and unconnected to any satellite beam, unwatched. Maybe, if were “grown-ups”, we would have folded a couple of singles and a five into our shoes. A neighbor, several houses down, had lined their property with sunflowers. A week and a half earlier they were just green stalks, pretty indiscernible from the tall privet hedges with which they share the property edge. Now they had not only burst forth, they were giving out seeds, some having already distributed all they had.
And who do I see there? Bees!! Bees of all stripes, my hive’s residents sharing surface with bumble bees and perhaps others of their community. Look, look, they’re making a beeline!
I want to thank these neighbors for planting so many sunflowers. But I do not know them. This is too bad, that I stop myself from knocking on their door. I can attribute it to the ongoing virus. But I have been enjoying the ways in which they use their green space for several years now. How many of us know our neighbors these days? How many of us have any familiarity with what occurs just outside our front stairs? Our back porch? Our back window? Beyond the fence, the hedge, the wall that demarcates our side from another’s? Nevermind the people down the block, or one or two floors below or above us.
I could be an old fart and grouse that it’s only these past couple of generations who do not know, raised, as they have been, on keyboards and computer screens, even when outdoors, as their heads are bowed to the pittance of a screen on their handhelds. But let us confess, we are almost all of us limited in our awareness of what immediately surrounds our living spaces. We are more attuned to what is broadcast for us on one or another screen than the space through which we pass, or could easily pass, if we ventured forth. I remember the delight I experienced 20 or 25 years ago when I could pull this little pocket phone out of my pocket and call my sister as I walked down the sidewalk! How cool is that!! I can call her and describe to her where I am walking right now! So quickly it became I need to call her right now, this call cannot wait until I am back home, this call to ask what date is so and so’s birthday, demands to occur now, nevermind the patch of wildflowers I am passing by laden with bees dipping and delving, doing their remarkable life-giving pollinating before my very eyes, if only I looked, instead of poking at the numbers on my electronic device. This call, this distant contact about unurgent matters matters more than this moment here now.
So I need to stop, need to look about me, breathe, listen, touch the textures at hand, lick the salt of sweat off my upper lip. Put the phone back in my pocket. Stand still, watch the bees, watch the sunflower petals riffle in the breeze. When I set myself back in motion, to make it slow (hard for me! it is easier to stop short and peer around for a bit, than to amble at a pace below three and a half to four miles per hour), and notice what surface I am treading, what sits at the edges, who is standing at their front door ready to say hello to me if I will say hello to them.
Here are a couple of photographs, hard to see her, but look carefully–a great blue heron in, due to our current drought, a low water pond. I stood and watched her for about 20 minutes, and then I couldn’t stand still any longer; I just had to move on (:-)) She had been there before I had arrived, and she remained standing there after I left. She preened feathers, aired out her wings, scratched under her chin, preened again, and paid close attention to the terrain. She stayed in place. Attending.
May your day bring delight.
Happy birthday, Todd.