I visited the pond a few days ago. On a scale of natural wonders, I guess it is really more of a puddle. Spectacular beauty rubs me the wrong way, like positive people and too much organization – so I am happy walking around my puddle, seeing what there is to see for 20 minutes or so. The path is pretty short from the edge of the parking lot to the fork that follows the pond, so I often just stand there, to make the trip last longer. Standing still at the fork in a path has its rewards. On Tuesday, I stopped because I realized I was expecting to hear a lot of bird song, and there wasn’t any. “Have the birds already left for the winter?” I wondered. Maybe they felt the portents of a bitter, implacable freeze poised to seep into every crevice of feather and grass, and literally flew the coop.
So I stood. And gradually, as often happens when you stop moving, the world came to me. It was true, the birds weren’t singing. But along the willow branches that skim the pond’s surface, and between the rigid skeletons of milkweed crowded with seed pods, pale brown and yellow bellies flashed, grey and blue black feathers shimmered. Suddenly, I saw they were everywhere – goldfinches, chickadees, grackles – even a robin. They moved restlessly in crowds and alone, from the birch behind the path, to the deep green shadows near the water, with purpose, not play – intently fulfilling some instinct that only they have the wisdom to follow.
I can’t wait for some better chance to see something beautiful. My little puddle surrounded by birds and thoughtless asters is already more than I know how to say. I come to this path because I can’t be anywhere else. At least nowhere I can see more constellations of starry flowers today.