at one

Sarah Cunningham's picture

My new site, the Haverford duck pond, becomes more and more beautiful. The bird population was up today-- maybe 70-80 geese as well as the usual dozen or two ducks-- and also exceptionally vocal. The ducks go quack quack quack, while the geese make a cry that is both more musical and harsher, more strident. They may have been noisy today because of the human families there feeding them, but it seemed to me to be something else as well. The geese are on the move, and it's an exciting time for them. But really their motivation is way beyond my ability to guess at it. They have their own life.

For some reason they reminded me of something I observed last night at dinner. Our housemate, La Verne, has two cats, who are now also our cats since they have been living with us for several years. The big black one, Rafi, is not only one of the largest pure black cats I've ever known, he is also an extremely strong personality. Even in repose, his strong black tail is always completely energized: it twitches vigorously and expressively from side to side, in a kind of hectic, random rhythm. Last night La Verne was telling me about the talk she went to at Haverford yesterday afternoon, featuring scientist Rupert Sheldrake and a visiting philosophy prof in a scientific/philosophical/spiritual discussion that sounded fascinating. As La Verne talked, obviously excited and stimulated by what she had heard, I noticed the lower part of her body moving and twitching in exactly the same way that Rafi twitches his tail (though more subtly, since she doesn't actually have a tail to twitch)! I didn't say anything about it, but it was wonderfully entertaining to observe the similarity between cat and owner. (And I ordered Sheldrake's new book, "Science Set Free: 10 Paths to New Discovery".)

Other observations at the pond: a tall maple tree, still with most of its leaves, seen from one angle was a deep carmine red, and then from another angle, across the pond, suddenly a golden yellow! From a third angle I saw how it had both colors, the red near the top, the yellow further down, but it still seemed extraordinary. And as I moved on around the pond, between the tall stalks of goldenrod all gone to seed, and the silver maples and the larches, and the burdock, and the remains of wild clematis vines, I could feel them all as presences, as energies, as emanations, as if I was seeing with my whole body, some kind of deep synesthesia of color, scent, movement, and pure energy, having no idea, really, why I should suddenly be so open, at this moment, to these perceptions. Nothing getting in the way of being with the totality of that place, those other creatures. Refreshment. Clarity. Peace and stimulation at the same time.

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