I went back to Benedict Pond this weekend and it was like visiting an old friend.
I discovered all of the new delights that have happened since my absence, the ice being completely melted, the lake as high as I’ve ever seen her, new shoots popping up along the creeks.
There was bad news as well as good as I explored a new area and saw the devastation from the beaver population.
I walked from a lush, spring planet of rebirth to darkness and death. A contrast, but still beautiful.
I have yet to come upon the perpetrators of this destruction, imagining them in their goggles and protective jumpsuits, their wide tails leaving a trail in the mud as they chew down forests in the blink of an eye. How they can do so much damage and not get caught baffles me. I am dying to see one. I sat for awhile in hopes of capturing them unaware, but my patience was not up to the challenge.
Walking back along the lake I saw this cool, leaf-shaped hole in a tree trunk and gazed through it looking out upon another new world. Catching this perspective made me blurt out the beginning of the familiar William Blake poem…
“To see the world in a grain of sand,
And heaven in a wildflower,
To hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
There were frogs croaking in the distance, as I came upon an underwater forest of eggs in a side pond. I assume they were frog eggs, clear goo surrounding little black specs. As I was studying them a newt sashayed by pushing himself forward with the wiggle of his backside. He reminded me of Gussie Fink-Nottle, the celebrated “newt fancier” with horn-rimmed glasses and a face like a fish in the Jeeves and Wooster books. I had never seen a newt in the wild, so even though the beavers eluded me, I am up one newt!
His wiggle also reminded me of a rehearsal with my 6th grade Midsummer Night’s Dream kids. I was working with the Mechanicals, the clowning group of players that rehearse a play in the forest, when one of my 6th grade boys put on some music and started dancing and wagging his butt, much like this newt, to the lyrics “I like big butts and I cannot lie.” I immediately thought this would be ideal for the Bergomask dance that they will do at the end of the play. They got so excited about creating a dance, and even though the lyrics are not parent appropriate, I am thrilled that the kids are creating their own show. Nature imitating art, or art imitating nature?
Further along the path I came to the now familiar pond journal (see On Benedict Pond) and was mesmerized by a poem someone had written inside.
The Quiet World
In an effort to get people to look
into each other’s eyes more,
and also to appease the mutes,
the government has decided
to allot each person exactly one hundred
and sixty-seven words, per day.
When the phone rings, I put it to my ear
without saying hello. In the restaurant
I point at chicken noodle soup.
I am adjusting well to the new way.
Late at night, I call my long distance lover,
proudly say I only used fifty-nine today.
I saved the rest for you.
When she doesn’t respond,
I know she’s used up all her words,
so I slowly whisper I love you
thirty-two and a third times.
After that, we just sit on the line
and listen to each other breathe.
What a beautiful love poem. I relish the idea of the government wanting us to look into each other’s eyes more. I’d like to live in that world. A world that encourages human contact with and without words. I would cherish a lover that would ration his words all day to lavish them on me at evenings end.
So I guess it was a day of worlds…a new-growth world, a dying world, an infinite world, an amphibian world with clowns, and a world of love. And I walk in and out of them in an instant creating a beautiful world of my own.
I’m struck by the possibility that this place was, for the moment, unspoiled by the human-made sounds that so often fill our otherwise quiet spaces. The sounds of nature are mostly fine but those mechanical and electronic ones–so nice to get a break now and then…
Oh, I couldn’t agree more! Cutting all made-made distractions allows me to hear my own thoughts better.