Right Relationship

03-31-2015 | Lindsay

Today the air is raw again. Bare-branched trees sketch tangled patterns in a leaden sky. The forest scene is painted in straw and pewter. The spring equinox was a week ago, and I am trying to have a right relationship with the bitter breezes and hard-scrabble ground.

Not that the harbingers of a greening earth haven't made an appearance. The wood frogs have been calling and gamboling in our small ponds for some time. Last night, the peepers joined the chorus. Three days ago, Scot, Linda, Josh, Emma, Ana, and Mollie were by the west end woodpile when they heard an unusual sound, a cross between a squeek and a rasp, and turning, observed a small, rounded bird with a long beak suddenly launch itself skyward, call out, whirl around and plummet earthward, the wind whistling through its feathers: the mating dance of the American Woodcock. Romance is everywhere. The creatures of the forest are shaking winter off their beings and are sallying forth, putting in appearances: the red-tailed hawks and the foxes; the barred owls and the squirrels.

Even so, it is possible to grumble impatiently while shrugging on another jacket, yanking a hat down over ears, preparing to walk in the gray woods. Where is the sunlight that is supposed to be lengthening day by day? When can we cease the trek from wood pile to stove and back again?

We are preparing to enter the Quiet Days, the ones before Easter. In Christianity, Easter is the celebration of resurrection. This highest of holy days names the East, the place of the coming of the light and the primal fire, redolent of illumination, imagination, creativity, regeneration. Some say its name is related to that of the ancient Goddess Eastre, the great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people, whose festival was in spring. From whatever stream one drinks, this is the sacred time of waiting before the cycle of life is renewed.

No one has claimed that waiting is supposed to be easy, or comfortable, or serene. But still, on this cold and long threshold of spring, it is possible to anticipate that soaring lift under one's body, as Mary Oliver would say, "harsh and exciting". Luke wrote recently about a time with Ana, his youngest niece:

"...yesterday as Ana and I squatted, peering down at the mass of frog eggs in our pond, a faint sound grew in the distance. Unable to see them for a few minutes led me to believe that they would not come into view. The trees were all around so I swept Ana up and rushed for the clearing in our back yard. I was unaware of the feeling that would then come over me as that great V took form in the clearing.


High. Steady. Slow across such a vast sky. The graceful march of geese on the air. Returning home. For new beginnings. Birth. Life. I have been party to three decades of this march. Somehow recently awakened from my indifference.

Connection. To a fluid world with travelers from faraway lands. Belonging. I in this place as each bird in the V. The rhythmic song of life. Broadcast from the skies. Proclaimed from the waters. Ana and I witnesses to the wonder of life in our new home."

Lindsay McLaughlin and Luke Bauer