The Natural Ebbs of the World

The Natural Ebbs of the World: Snow Goose Courtesy Pixabay, Hans Benn, Photographer
Snow Goose
Courtesy Pixabay, Hans Benn, Photographer
I can never tell if the anachronism of daylight savings is ironic. Maybe that’s due to my newly syncopated circadian rhythm. Or maybe it’s all a dream. Or perhaps, it’s somewhere in between.

Either way, it strikes me odd that we take our supposed linear direction on time from circular mechanisms that are unable to change of their own volition, except for once a year where we make morning seem earlier, even though it really isn’t, then in the fall we realize what an odd choice we made and go back on our decision.

Winter then sees us forget about our lapse. The cloud of amnesia, gained through time influencing time, shrouds our minds, so that come spring we’re intellectual infants, fresh as the crisp crocus air.

Now, I am actually not opposed to daylight savings. In fact, I’m very for it, though I differ in how it is implemented. I actually enjoy that, twice a year, our inner apes get to upset the rigid clockwork of clockwork, and use arbitrary tradition to tell our shared system of accountability that it does not have all the sway, and that it is ultimately, itself, an arbitrary tradition. I like that we get to be human in a world that is increasingly machine.

My umbrage with daylight savings, then, is that it isn’t wild enough. A strict date to spring and fall? That doesn’t seem right. It’s too orderly. My vote is that in every town, we pick one critter who wakes then dens, or arrives then leaves, and base our system of time off of something that is actually real, tangible, and unconditional. Maybe for the towns here in Utah, it can be a ground squirrel. Or a swan. Or RV tourists. Instead of having a strict immobile date, we give all time its greatest accountability: the natural ebbs of the world. We give time the context it is itself within.

This system I’d find actually meaningful, and just great fun. Imagine a likeness to groundhog day, twice a year, in every town, with all sorts of menagerie. The message we’ll send is that time doesn’t control us, nor we time. Instead time is controlled by those who are unaware of their own influence. Each living thing would have a potential chance to alter how we conduct ourselves. In this way, daylight savings no longer becomes anachronistic, or even ironic. Instead, daylight savings can become a dialogue with the world; a conversation with our participation in life. Time becomes grounded in reality. I imagine this conversation:

“What time is it?”
“Depends, has the first snow goose arrived?”
“No, but the last leaves fell off the box elder by the post office.”
“Then that explains why Bill isn’t here and we are.”

So this daylight savings, if you or someone you know is grumbling that all of this could be so much easier, just say yes, it could, and pitch them this idea if you’re keen on it, too. Let them see that we don’t have to be where we are, with an inane change of the time based on time, but instead we could change the time based on the world which is alive and vibrant around us each day. We could force ourselves to participate in time, by seeing that who we are depends on where we are and the life which encircles the lives we live. Maybe then, we can lose the ironic anachronism we currently have, and let our circadian rhythms be aligned to those natural forces which run deeper than a calendar date wherever, or whenever, you are.

I’m Patrick Kelly and I’m Wild About Utah.
 
Credits:
Images: Courtesy Pixabay, Hans Benn, Photographer https://pixabay.com/photos/goose-white-snow-goose-flies-4190673/
Audio: Courtesy & © Kevin Colver https://wildstore.wildsanctuary.com/collections/special-collections
Text:    Patrick Kelly, Director of Education, Stokes Nature Center, https://www.logannature.org
Included Links: Patrick Kelly & Lyle Bingham, Webmaster, WildAboutUtah.org

Additional Reading

Wild About Utah, Posts by Patrick Kelly

Stokes Nature Center in Logan Canyon, https://www.logannature.org/

Sermons of Birds

Sermons of Birds: Forest in Autumn Courtesy Pixabay.com, HmsFree, Photographer
Forest in Autumn
Courtesy Pixabay.com, HmsFree, Photographer
There is a story I like of an old Zen master who one day was asked to speak wisdom to his acolytes as they were sitting outside. He obliged. He rose and walked to the front of the students. He waited a moment to think carefully about his words, opened his mouth, and then just as he was about to speak, a bird in a nearby tree sang its beautiful warbling song. The master did not interrupt but instead simply listened and waited until the song finished, and the bird had flown away. When it had, he finally spoke: “The sermon has been delivered,” he acknowledged, and took his seat once more.

I think about this story often and dwell on its themes. The true master who is the truest student. The songbird who speaks truth without language. The wisdom elevated by listening to the world without ego.

This time of year, I try to take the lesson of the Zen master and listen to the autumn world around me, the softening sounds of my time on earth. I take pause and hear the breeze which rustles box elders scarlet and shivers aspens gold. The wind which blankets the land and grows it rosy before winter’s snowy slumber.

The birds’ notes, the bearers of great truths, have shifted from their summer selves, too. No longer do they sing for love, but instead call for companions as they find flocks to blunder between fermented crabapple trees with, and telegraph where the good black oil seed is for the benefit of all who husk germ.

I find solidarity with their industry, for I believe we all come from the same inner place. They, doing what is good and right, and I as well. I, too, likely like you, get a hankering, a reckoning to winterize, to preserve, to stock up like a tree’s fattening roots, swollen full with the liquor of next spring’s buds and blossoms. I do it through crisp cider, hot corn chowder, steamed cans, jammed jars, strong mulled toddies, and wool. These are my fruits and fat stores. These are my natural inclinations.

I take from the story of the Zen master, too, that we are all on the same team. Just as the master understood to defer a message of truth to the birds, we can all recognize the truth in what autumn fills us all with: that drive of readiness for spring by ways of winter. That our season of without only can be because of seasons of with, and that our seasons of bounty can only be through the rest with which we are pulled in winter.

So this autumn, I encourage you to listen like the Zen master to the world around you. When it whispers, “put on a sweater and sip hot drinks by the hearth,” do so. When it bellows, “can and jam all of the things for winter is coming and the taste of summer is that season’s delight,” do so as well.

And when the world says, “listen,” in beautiful birdsong, do so, and know that you sing, too, by being who you are to your core.

I’m Patrick Kelly, and I’m Wild About Utah.
 
Credits:
Images: Courtesy Pixabay, HmsFree, Photographer
Audio: Courtesy & © Kevin Colver https://wildstore.wildsanctuary.com/collections/special-collections
Text:    Patrick Kelly, Director of Education, Stokes Nature Center, https://www.logannature.org
Included Links: Patrick Kelly & Lyle Bingham, Webmaster, WildAboutUtah.org

Additional Reading

Wild About Utah, Posts by Patrick Kelly

Stokes Nature Center in Logan Canyon, https://www.logannature.org/

In Equal Measure to Our Fears

In Equal Measure to Our Fears: Utah Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma) Drawing water from a stone: this juniper grew out of just a few fractures in the surface rock. Courtesy US NPS, Neal Herbert, Photographer
Utah Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma)
Drawing water from a stone: this juniper grew out of just a few fractures in the surface rock.
Courtesy US NPS, Neal Herbert, Photographer
Doubt is a tricky thing. It’s neither good nor bad, it is simply the axis upon which the scales of hope and fear balance. It is the prerequisite of faith, belief, disbelief, and nihilism, all equal paths of equal circumstance. It is the fork in the road which Berra told us to take all the same. In Equal Measure to Our Fears

When I go outside, breathe in the thick charcoal air, see the dribbling water in the once-mighty streams, and hear more stories of growing sickness, I’ll admit that I have doubts which edge on fear. I doubt that this is the last year of record-breaking heat. I doubt that this is the last year of record-breaking drought. I doubt that this is the last year of record-breaking hospitalizations. Such doubt can make you feel hopeless, powerless, and just plain sad. What have we done? How did we get here? Wasn’t this all avoidable? It takes me some time, then, to remember to move on from that doubt and to take a path, but to never forget the place in which drove me to rest and reflect. Though it can feel like a good place of respite, a shady tree to rest one’s laurels or wallow and say uncle to what we’ve sown, there’s still work which can be done. To rest in doubt is to be a bump on a log and not the tree itself. I remember the lessons of the humble tree.

The tree lives because of doubt’s prodigy of conjoined fear and hope. We must also harness both in equal form and measure in order to grow, and to live. In seeing the unified balance there is motion. The tree’s roots reach downwards, clinging to the earth in fear. In this way the world is its. The tree’s branches reach skywards, opening to the sky in hope. In this way it is the world’s. The tree’s roots drink water and move the earth: from fear comes motion and matter. The tree’s leaves drink fire and move the air: from hope comes life and form. Without fear, we would shrivel. Without hope, we would rot. Without fear, we would fall. Without hope, we would suffocate. To be subject to hope, you must make fear a part of you. Latch onto it, and feel that this shade of love is life given purpose. Then you may reach upwards and see that you do so only because you contain that which you cling to.

The fear I feel when I breathe in our Utah air, see green lawns, and hear new numbers on the radio is necessary for hope, and both are only possible because of the blessings of doubt because the future is not fixed. And yet, there is another hidden secret to fear and hope, and that is action. The tree is not a static being. Like all of us, it is in a constant state of becoming. We may be where we are, but where we are does not mean we must remain. Trees grow over boulders, thrive upon cliffs, and so can we. We can move on from La Brean doubt on what shall be. We can continue our journey in becoming. Given this, we then have a question in which to answer for ourselves: the question though is not what shall we become, but towards which light do we choose to work towards in equal measure to our fears?

I’m Patrick Kelly, and I’m Wild About Utah.
 
Credits:
Images: Courtesy US National Park Service, Neal Herbert, Photographer
Audio: Courtesy & © J. Chase and K.W. Baldwin. https://upr.org/
Text:    Patrick Kelly, Director of Education, Stokes Nature Center, https://www.logannature.org
Included Links: Patrick Kelly & Lyle Bingham, Webmaster, WildAboutUtah.org

Additional Reading

Wild About Utah, Posts by Patrick Kelly

Stokes Nature Center in Logan Canyon, https://www.logannature.org/

The Indomitable Juniper, Canyonlands National Park, US National Parks Service, US Department of the Interior, https://www.nps.gov/cany/learn/nature/utahjuniper.htm (Image source)

Take the Plunge

Take the Plunge: Comparative Landscapes Courtesy & © Patrick Kelly
Comparative Landscapes
Courtesy & © Patrick Kelly
Probably yesterday by the time you hear this, I will have proposed to my now fiance. I wanted to do it earlier, but life held me off from doing it in Utah. Utah wouldn’t let me say what Poland, her home country, was there for. The land needed to be a part of the process.

My fiance grew up a short jaunt south from the shores of the Baltic Sea. The Baltic Sea dominates her stories of childhood. The frigid salt was always in the air, carrying the song of the farthest edge of the world, being inhaled and lived by and because.

When she was 15 she left home to go to a more challenging school and moved to a port city right at the sea’s gate. She went from smells and dreams, to sights and lullabies. Her deepest homeland became centered on its edge.

Near this town, there are the greatest of sand dunes. They were an often visited location by her family growing up, a National Park to take pride in loving. To be closer to them meant to be closer to those memories of belonging. The wild dunes against the wild sea. Momentum affixed with momentum. Pure knowns of land, and beyond. This is the special place.

It’s there that I will have proposed because I love her, and she is only who she is because of this place, so therefore I love it, too. I have to.

I tell this story because here in Utah, we are only who we are because of its place and the elements which make it special, too, for so many. We are full of our own special places with special stories, both past and present. The challenge we are facing, though, is whether we love the very land of Utah enough for it to be included in our future. Do we love Utah enough to refill the Great Salt Lake so that it helps push our snows higher into the mountains with its warm uplifting air, and lets more water flow back for everyone come spring? Do we love Utah enough to plant native flowers instead of lawns, and pick serviceberries over hedges so that our springs still carry the songs of birds? Do we love Utah enough to know that there are no sacred or unsacred places, only the sacred and the desecrated? Do we love Utah enough to keep it a homeland, not just its heart, but its every edge, too?

I say we take the plunge. I say we make it official.

There is a place where we are who we are, and for many of us it is Utah. It may be a memory of Utah long ago. Or maybe you have to really think about if you’ve found it yet. Or maybe you are there right now. Regardless, we all have a place where we can feel free on the edge and heart of our homeland. There is a place which is where we love.

Where is yours today? Where will it be tomorrow?

I’m Patrick Kelly and I’m Wild About Utah
 
Credits:

Images: Courtesy & © Patrick Kelly
Audio: Courtesy & © Kevin Colver https://wildstore.wildsanctuary.com/
Text:    Patrick Kelly, Director of Education, Stokes Nature Center, https://www.logannature.org
Included Links: Patrick Kelly & Lyle Bingham, Webmaster, WildAboutUtah.org

Additional Reading

Wild About Utah, Posts by Patrick Kelly

Stokes Nature Center in Logan Canyon, https://www.logannature.org/