The Tip of This Floweret

Mornings are magic here. The whinny of a screech owl, the vibrations of bullfrogs. The garrulous squawk of the blue heron mingling with the wind chimes at the screen door. The song of my wood thrush (mine, you see) and twitters of other songbirds waking into the day. The sun hasn’t come over the ridge yet but there’s light on the pond and a soft light on my hives with its backdrop of Queen Anne’s lace. Their taproots reach deep into the earth. Holding on. For dear life. Stems, straight and strong, bend toward the sun. Dividing again and again, each one ends in a flower, and each flower bursts into flowerets. I follow a stem in my mind to arrive at the tip of one perfect tiny floweret.

So, so much here. Charles M. Schultz said that adversity is what makes you mature; the growing soul is watered best by the tears of sadness. I question my existence in this particular time and space. Often. On the path I’ve taken, a step either right or left could have sent me tangentially off, deeply angled from that moment. Every choice was met with yet another choice and of all the places I could have landed, I blossomed in this little nook and cranny of the world. I’ve harvested richness from adversity. This is where I belong today, stepping forward from a point of reality, not from some point of fantasy.

And so I listen to this bullfrog serenading me at first light. I watch this heron winging by, its prehistoric silhouette dark against the silver misted waters of the pond, from the tip of my floweret. There are no shortcuts to a different life and there is no retracing of steps, no turning back time. The measured hum of the bullfrog, leaving only echoes, and the pulsating wingbeats of the heron moving it only forward, tell me so. They are wise and that settles my heart.

Floweret of Queen Anne's Lace


Janice Sina, former biology teacher turned veterinary assistant, observes and writes about nature, human and otherwise. She lives in East Haddam, Connecticut, US, where she strives to tread lightly on this Earth with her husband, her pets, and several thousand honeybees. She is currently putting the finishing touches on her first book, Songlines in the Key of B. You can find out more at janicesina.com

Photo of Queen Anne’s Lace by the author.

Summer Music

5:10 am. The song of the wood thrush sounds a little forlorn, blending as it does with dreams not quite remembered. Sharing coffee with the internet doesn’t change my perception of its tone. I snap my laptop shut and harness Wally; we’re out the door by 6 am, hoping natural news will find us.
song thrush singing on branch,
Mist rises up from the hayfield, dissipating the scents of the night. Wally’s nose twitches. A cow has wandered outside its pasture, tasting freedom in the tender greens. We wander through the local nursery in the quiet before its gates swing open. Wally waters the hydrangeas, roots stretching from the confines of buckets, waiting for a home. I calculate how many creeping thyme plants with their delicate purple flowers will blanket my rock wall. The “cheer, cheer” of a cardinal coaxes the wood thrush out of its mood.

Back home, I find my way to the garden and let it work its magic while I free tomato plants from weedy neighbors. Dirt finds its way under my nails and mama spiders carrying pure white orbs scurry into recesses. Early bumble bees lumber by, pulled by the scent of milkweed drifting over the fence. Dream remnants evaporate in the morning sun. Slowly, the song of the wood thrush brightens. I am ready for the day.


Janice Sina, former biology teacher turned veterinary assistant, observes and writes about nature, human and otherwise. She lives in East Haddam, Connecticut, US, where she strives to tread lightly on this Earth with her husband, her pets, and several thousand honeybees. She is currently putting the finishing touches on her first book, Songlines in the Key of B. You can find out more at janicesina.com

Photo of Song Thrush by Michael Lane

Unfurling

“Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning.” A single line of poetry by John O’Donohue, plucked from a reading on a cool spring night. I see a fern, delicate in the woods, fuzzy-bright and pure green among last year’s oak leaves. It is curled in on itself in the cool sunshine, waiting for just the right time to unfold.

Fern tips spiraling upwardEvery spring I look for these along the wooded path, worried I’ll miss their measured opening. Growth can be seen at a glance; in a week these ferns will be fronds nodding in the breeze. Nature, all grown up. It takes time and patience to witness that magical middle stage – the tiny increments of growth between fiddlehead and fern. Dewdrops ease out from spirals that broaden until they can contain themselves no longer and with gentle energy, each frond stretches into its own space.

Have I overlooked my own quiet unfurling? Mature now, wise some would say. I’m not so reactive, defensive. Not so vulnerable. I don’t like to remember when these qualities dominated my sense of self. I wish I’d had the patience to stay with myself, teardrops easing out from the spirals of my being. I wish I’d trusted the tiny increments, found the quiet energy to stretch into my own space. Self-criticism does not lead to self-improvement. Kind attention does. I know this now.

It takes patience to sit by the fern and watch it unfurl, oh so slowly, watch it do the only thing it was meant to do, the thing it knows to do so well, the thing that makes it beautiful. Catching the sun between its feathered leaves, swaying like a graceful dancer. Taking what is offered – nutrients from the soil, energy from the sun.

Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning. Don’t leap over the middle ground. To stay with yourself through the middle is the place in your own spiral of time where kindness grows.


Janice Sina, former biology teacher turned veterinary assistant, observes and writes about nature, human and otherwise. She lives in East Haddam, Connecticut, US, where she strives to tread lightly on this Earth with her husband, her pets, and several thousand honeybees. She is currently putting the finishing touches on her first book, Songlines in the Key of B. You can find out more at janicesina.com
Photo by the author

Easter Morning Worship

Mist hangs at heart level in the field beyond the stone wall, just out of reach of the sun’s angled rays. The melody of a childhood hymn blends with the song of a white-throated sparrow on this still Sunday morning. One bird on this very tree. Why here? Surely not for me. Singing mightily for another. “Oh, sweet Canada, Canada, Canada.”

Listen. I whisper. So beautiful. I want to share it. Joy can ache with loneliness. I add my own voice to the morning. “Alleluia . . . “ In the vastness that is this world, we find ourselves, one person, in this very place, singing our own song. Singing mightily for Another. Alleluia.


Janice Sina, former biology teacher turned veterinary assistant, observes and writes about nature, human and otherwise. She lives in East Haddam, Connecticut, US, where she strives to tread lightly on this Earth with her husband, her pets, and several thousand honeybees. She is currently putting the finishing touches on her first book, Songlines in the Key of B. You can find out more at janicesina.com

Perfectly Natural Moments

This is not the June-like April of last year, with temperatures in the 70s and windows open at night to let in the sound of the spring peepers.  This is the April we’re accustomed to here in New England – that blend of blustery winds and cloudless sunny skies, where winter and spring are still playing tug of war.  Walking along the road, the wind is strong, tugging tendrils of my hair from its ponytail and numbing my fingers.  My lab Wally has that extra bounce in his step that he gets when the wind is in his face.  We duck into the woods along the trail that leads to the pond’s lee side where the sun is warmer and the wind is still.

Tree swallow perched on branchThe water in the middle of the pond is all about February as it ripples with the wind and dazzles with a million tiny reflections of the sun, giving it an air of busy-ness. But here at the edge, the water is calm and blue, and I walk slower to soak up the April part of this day.  A hundred or so tree swallows have followed their instincts, and have gathered here too. Flying low along the water, a mere 12 ounces of iridescent blue wings and white breast feathers, they dip into the water, barely touching the surface, then flying up again with the grace and speed only a bird has.

We stop, my dog and I, barely hidden by the meager growth of early spring in the woods.  Two steps more and I would be at the water’s edge, yet they don’t seem to be bothered by my presence.  Keeping warm all night has depleted their reserves. Even Wally is quiet and in the hush I hear their beaks dip into the water; so many of them that if I close my eyes, it almost sounds like a tiny brook tumbling through rounded stones on its way to something bigger.  One more step forward and I’ve entered their personal space.  They rise up and settle on a red maple sapling, dressing it like the leaves it will soon have. Apparently neither I nor my dog are too much of a threat, because they cascade down again, a waterfall of birds, the sound of their sweet, single calls in the key of C.

Great Blue Heron hinting in winter pondSomewhere on the pond a great blue heron squawks and my dog starts off again toward the sound.  Though I’m not quite ready to move away from the warmth of the sun and the natural perfection of this moment, he is.  So I leave the tree swallows to their insect meal and head back into the bracing winds, reluctantly.

Back through the woods, there is still more of last year’s brown than this year’s green; lichens and mosses are the first to venture into spring.  I shiver involuntarily while my dog noses around in the brush, distracted from his mission to check out the heron. He lifts his chin to the wind, leading me off the trail back toward the water and something only he can smell.  He spends some time investigating the gnawed stump of a sapling, the work of a beaver, and then pulls me along an animal trail with more insistence.

As we approach the water again, we are both startled by a loud slap.  He jumps back in surprise, then moves closer to the water’s edge where we see a beaver swimming away from shore.  To my dog, this is another creature to show who is boss, and he dances at the water’s edge, barking excitedly. But to me it’s another perfectly natural moment on an early spring morning.


Janice Sina, former biology teacher turned veterinary assistant, observes and writes about nature, human and otherwise. She lives in East Haddam, Connecticut, US, where she strives to tread lightly on this Earth with her husband, her pets, and several thousand honeybees. She is currently putting the finishing touches on her first book, Songlines in the Key of B. You can find out more at janicesina.com
Tree Swallow photo by the author.
Great Blue Heron photo by Marie-Ann Daloia