With our feet firmly rooted in the messy muck that is life, and our eyes turned wistfully up to the firmament yearning for the promises of paradise, we habitually drag ourselves through the calendar with scant regard for the serendipitous offerings that generously pepper the middle latitudes ensconced between the banal tasks of daily reality and the friable dreams of fantasy. The bridge connecting these disparate landscapes affords us the best of all possible views.
From this vantage point we can see clearly the vital importance of maintaining an intimate relationship with the natural world, as well as acknowledging the myriad of advantages bequeathed to us by modernity. Both spheres are of utmost importance in guiding humanity’s long, difficult quest to create a world that is sustainable, equitable and respectful to all sentient creatures. From this bridge it is readily apparent that these paradigms must resolve their conflicts – to find a way to come together in a symbiotic congress.
Except for the things you experience personally and the things you learn by means of your own toil and sweat, everything else might as well be myth. But given that vicarious knowledge is by far the pre-eminent way that we learn about the intricacies of a exceedingly complex world, the most important question to ask yourself then becomes, “How trustworthy are my sources?” In an age where we have virtually unlimited access to information purporting to be the truth, skepticism and critical assessment are invaluable tools for screening out the dreck. Doubt is your stalworth ally in this vital endeavour.
Despite the ethereal characteristics of matter and energy; despite the intrinsic indeterminacy of the quantum realm; despite the raw, unsettling discontinuities of time itself; despite all this and the immense difficulty of painting a cohesive picture that captures reality’s true nature, these facets of our imagingings are all inexorably entwined in a gloriously convincing illusion.
Impressions of Adjala
January – A long walk beneath an idyllic sky, through the pine and cedar bottomlands; hearing only the winds’s faint, strangely breathlike whispers through the leafless canopy; then thrilled by the unexpected rattle of a Belted Kingfisher, hunting along the unfrozen stretches of Sheldon Creek.
February – Snowshoeing for hours and actually keeping warm despite the bitter cold; pausing to drink in the pristine winter landscape; finding beauty in the simplest of things.
March – The welcome warmth of early spring; exploring far-flung fields; fascinated by the many faces of nature; from the newly forming buds to the dried out husks of milkweed seedpods.
April – The eerie courtship call of an Upland Sandpiper, displaying above the fallow field across the road. The surprisingly loud chorus of spring peepers and bullfrogs heard while drifting off to sleep. A dazzling sunset from West Ridge, which overlooks Sheldon valley, followed by the wash of colours that paint the distant, horizon-hugging clouds, full circle from the vibrant, orange hues in the west to the ethereal, pink patina in the east.
May – The quiet moments of contemplative solitude by Sheldon Bridge; listening to the water’s soft murmuring; gazing absentmindedly at the sky’s perfect reflection; watching an Eastern Kingbird’s skillful aerial manoeuvers.
June – The super-sized full moon rising over distant tree-lined South Ridge. The sweet, earthy redolence of the native grasses and wildflowers that permeates the air after a gentle rain. The abundant blossoms that grace fields, meadows and marshes, attracting all manner of insects.
July – Perfect unobstructed view of distant thunderheads – lit up from within by staccato bolts of lightning. Watching Murphy explore the flora and fauna on our way to the creek.
August – The annual Perseids meteor spectacle, punctuated occasionally by the darting blurr of a Little Brown Bat or the stately passage of a transpolar satellite. The night I ran out at midnight into the middle of the road, during the 1989 solar maximum, to gaze in stunned amazement, at the panoply of surreal, auroral colours that fully covered the northern dome of the sky.
September – The many hikes along the trail that I carved from the back door, through the backyard woodlot, along the south side of the creek, across a convenient deadfall to the other side, past the Township’s temporary quarry pond that doubled as the springtime home for a family of Mergansers, and up the hill to the hardwood bush ablaze with vibrant fall foliage.
October – The Thanksgiving morning when a Coyote displayed its omnivorous nature – eating crab apples beneath the tree in the front yard. The subdued beauty of the abandoned beaver pond, its gentle ripples gracefully reflecting the vault of blue.
November – The view from South Ridge after a late autumn snowfall, looking through the bare branches, back across the pasture, towards my place nestled against the trees.
December – The richly hued sky; its mood reflected in the mocha-like cast of the ice encrusted snow.
Judge not my dreams, thoughts or philosophies, for sentience commands that I paint the world as as I see it, in all its glory and in all its madness. Judge not my desires, for they are but the manifestations of my innate humanness. Judge not my words, unless loosing them, heaps pain and suffering upon others, or infringes on their inalienable rights. My actions alone stand before you.
Morality, as exemplified by, but not limited to; compassion, empathy, fairness, inclusion, nonviolence and respect — unequivocally transcends all ideologies — regardless of their origins, credentials, ubiquity, popularity, tenure or the fervently held views of their impassioned, but often misguided adherents.
Furthermore, morality is an evolutionarily adaptive characteristic than is vital to humanity’s well-being and our very survival.
A boundless, openminded quest for an intimate understanding of nature’s miraculous story; combined with an appreciation for the beautiful complexity of the cosmos — can only enhance our wonder. Each secret revealed can only add to our reverence.