Sunday, July 13, 2008

What if we each had but one fleeting moment of glory?

In a previous post, I spoke of a quiet moment of joy when I discovered my first luna moth. At that time, after it flew, I ran home to sketch it so I wouldn’t forget. This weekend, I saw another. And I had my camera handy.

This elusive, ephemeral creature was lying on a gravel path in Chignecto campground, Fundy National Park; the same place where I spotted my first. Fearing someone might inadvertently trample it, I picked it up and moved it to safety.

The wings were the colour of fresh cornhusks and as transparent as onionskin. Its furred body and underside of the wings were silky to touch; the bushy antennae, shaped like the veins of a leaf, identified it as a male. Eyespots on his wings, intended to confuse predators, enhanced the magical quality of this exquisite creature.

But, those delicate, silken wings were tattered. It had been hurt, suffered damage in its short life. As I held it gently, it began to quiver and shudder. I wondered if it would die right there in my hand. Then, suddenly, it gathered itself together, lifted those poor tattered wings and fluttered to the underside of a large leaf where it remained, hidden, perfectly blended with its surroundings. A quiet place to gather strength. An hour later, I checked and it had flown.

I feel blessed by such a rare encounter. The chances of finding a luna are very slim. To hold one in the palm of one's hand, even more extraordinary. An adult luna moth will only live in this glorious state for 7 days, during which time, it will mate and then die.

What if we, too, were permitted only a fleeting moment of glory in our lives…only a short time of exquisite beauty and magnificence to fulfill our purpose and leave something of ourselves behind? Only one brief interlude to touch another life and leave it profoundly changed.

Would we let the paralysis of hurt and damage hold us in place to be trampled again? Or would we allow another to lift us up to safety? Would we blend in with our surroundings and hide with our hurts in fear, or would we have the courage to spread our wings and fly to our purpose?

I love this quote by Marianne Williamson in A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, Harper Collins:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What if we all could see beyond the horizon?

A friend took me for a coast crawl in his ultra-light on Saturday. We departed a small, grassy private airfield outside of Hillsborough and flew down the Bay of Fundy coast as far as his gas tank would allow. A hot, motionless morning, three days past the new moon, meant the tide was unusually low and we didn’t have to deal with wind. Perfect for a low altitude flight.

Floating along several hundred feet above the coast, the beauty of this landscape and all its elements left me breathless: the sleepy lull of a bay at rest, mounds of ancient mountain ranges, hidden finger lakes, extraordinary mudflats wrinkled by a myriad of rivulets, and the deep emerald patterns of the Hillsborough and Shepody marshes. My horizons spread out and flew.

Cape Enrage
We paralleled the cliffs at the Hopewell Rocks, taking photos of tourists taking photos of us. Further up the coast, others waved from the Cape Enrage Lighthouse. As we passed Waterside Beach, long and lean as a yardstick, we skimmed barely above the sand. We sailed high over the great rubbled cascading cliffs of Alma and Fundy National Park, the coves and wilderness campsites along the Fundy Footpath, circled Martin Head with its swirls of sand and water the colour of abalone shell, then turned for home.

Martin Head
As we floated over the great river valleys slicing the coast, the Two Rivers estuary and the Mary’s Point mudflats, stretched out like buffed leather, I found myself struck by a deep, profound passion for this place… has always been here, this passion for place, long before I knew it had a name...long before I learned the stories of our magnificent tides, our vibrant salt marshes and mesmerizing shorebirds. The passion was born in the days when my parents began bringing me on Sundays to visit my Albert County cousins, but it has been a quiet, comfortable resident in my soul, growing slowly, building layer upon layer through a wealth of experiences and explorations.

Through the years, this place has entered me...I've carried its soil under my nails, its mud in my pores, its gifts in my belly. Its sea has cooled my body, its salt crusted my skin, its scent filled my lungs.
I've gathered it into me, in bits and pieces, filling my life with its sights and stories; but, this wondrous day - seeing how all the hills and valleys, coves and rivers that I cherish fit together into a whole -it suddenly overwhelmed me.

I wanted to grab our leaders by the shoulders - those who cannot see beyond today or their own glory or achievement - and plead with them to join me in protecting this wild space. This is my land. My ancestors bowed to it and claimed it to make me Canadian, to make me a New Brunswicker. My heart tells me we need our wild places, we need to stand firm and not crumble to the lure of the dollar or unnecessary development.

It raised a she-bear in me…this God’s-eye view.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

What if Country Gardens were more about Friends than Flowers?

Albert County had its first annual garden tour on Saturday, featuring a number of gardens in Hopewell Cape. It was an idea long overdue.

One of those featured was actually my former garden. It was like meeting an old friend who has matured since you last saw her.

I walked about familiar beds and marveled at the size of my Polaris and Snow Pavement rose bushes, the profusion of honeysuckle vine and the way the tiny old fashioned rose sprig I’d transplanted before I left was vigorously climbing the arbour swing.

As I wandered, I remembered Jamie, who gave me the humongous hostas and Aiko, who contributed the lady’s mantle and yellow loosestrife that have gone on to decorate so many other gardens. The veronica and lilies came from Nancy; sedum and iris from Dot; phlox from Janet. The maple tree was one my husband dug from the forest. It had grown into a fine specimen – perhaps something the new owners will use as a backdrop for photos someday.

My garden was like a collection of memory, friendships and love.

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the backyards of my former neighbours, as well, and wondered why, in the 15 years I’d lived there, I’d never taken the time to visit them. It made me feel a little sad - to think of the missed opportunities; the missed friendships and sharing.

The gardens of Hopewell Cape are, indeed, quite lovely – many of them messy, unruly country gardens that don’t mind a weed or two. Just the way I like them.

They flow around heritage homes and newer constructions; some incorporate ‘discovered’ treasures, others are decorated with purchased ‘finds’, but they share one thing in common. Each is as unique and colourful as its owner. Each is a small plot of flowers that evolved and expanded with time and diligence, illuminating the personality and passion of its caretaker. I feel like I know each of my neighbours much better now.

And I’ve made a promise to myself to start visiting the backyard of my new neighbours. No more missed friendships. What better investment of my time?