We are literally the salt of the earth. Stardust creatures made of air and minerals. We belong to the Earth – this living world, this super-organism in which we all live and die and are recycled to live and die again and again, in a new form, in a new way. We cry tears of salt and water, remnants of the ocean tide still pulling us inside the web of life we will never escape. Our very breath is what we share with all life. Blue green bacteria initiated the masses aeons ago and we are all breathing one another in as a result of it.
The mom was probably holding her breath…
I have been wondering what Mother’s Day will feel like without Mom (she died last October). Mother’s Day heralds the riotous beauty of spring. Flowers are open wide in celebration, splashing color throughout the Land. And the river, it is wriggling with exuberant bodies, as the American Shad and Sea Lamprey swim vigorously upriver to spawn. May seems like an entire month of celebrating LIFE! Yes, breathe it all in. All the excitement that life has to offer. But in that newness of life, there are those moments when you see how fragile it all is. A hail storm pelting petals off the bush. Slick bodies bashed on rocks and dams, never to make it upstream, never to participate in creating new life.
Storms are a part of life. Still, anticipating them can take your breath away – in awe or dread – watching them roll in. I fret over the seedlings I just planted. They are not really my kids but somehow I feel responsible for putting them in the ground and expecting them to grow. As mesmerizing as the hail can be as it bounces against the Earth, I hold my breath. Will the babies be okay out there in the outside? This made me think about those times I hold my breath and don’t even realize it until I release it. The release – relief. That feeling of “ah, we made it through the storm.” Which then led to a memory seemingly unrelated. It was a few springs ago. A mama Deer had just crossed the road and turned around to look to where she had come from. I saw her cross and stopped the car, as I caught movement from the corner of my eye. I tend to believe, that where there is one critter crossing, there may be more. So there I was on Route 116 in Deerfield watching a fawn cross the road. You could see his resolve in his attempts at coordinating all four legs to go in the same direction. Being on a hard surface with big square creatures with sunshine for eyes only stressed him out more. I looked to the mama Deer. She stayed on the side – waiting – ears flexing back and forth, tail swatting the instinct to run away from the dangers of the road. I can imagine the Deer mama holding her breath. Do deer pray? Was she praying for strength? His? Her own? Thankfully a pickup truck coming from the other direction also stopped and we essentially blocked traffic so this newborn could get to the other side without passing over “to the other side.” The gentleman and I nodded to each other as if to agree, “not on my watch.” Only one vehicle beeped behind me, attempted to go around my car, and then stopped short at the spectacle. Then all humans in line were quiet as we awaited for the babe to march awkwardly across the pavement. Looking determined and angry, as if to say, “Give a body a moment. I am still new to all of this,” the fawn crossed the road to his awaiting mother. Is that when she released her breath? I could imagine her feeling relief – “we made it through this storm.” Isn’t that what moms do when they observe, as if in agonizingly slow motion, when you do something that scares the “bejeebees” out of them but they know they cannot save you from the situation? The Deer mama gave her baby a quick nuzzle and both headed off into the woods. The gentleman and I waved to one another and started our vehicles and went on our way. As I released my breath, I suddenly realized I was holding it. Why do we hold our breath as watch something not entirely under our control? Is it instinct to know we share our breath, and that by holding it, we can somehow give the other being more space to breathe? I said a prayer out the window to fawn and mom – “May you live a good life.”
As spring heats up into summer, there will many creatures out there crossing the road to get to the other side. Please watch for them. All these babes and moms and dads just doing what they do. They have places to go too.