Monday, April 16, 2012

A Day in the Country

Here's a piece I wrote seven years ago. I need to revisit this spot...

I took a couple of days off this week at a friend’s lovely retreat center, Lyric Springs, about forty miles outside of Nashville. Above the huge fireplace in the den, there is a placard that states “A day in the country is worth a month in the city.”

Many of the daylight hours were spent outside by the Little Harpeth River that runs along the property. There is a bend in the stream there, with a flood plain that is perhaps 250 yards long, and about fifty wide.

Some observations:

-A black and gold butterfly doing figure eight orbits around a cluster of magnolias.

-Squadrons of dark gray dragonflies with sky blue tails hovering then dispersing.

-The intoxicating scent of moss, damp foliage, and rushing water.

-Choruses of cicadas calling back and forth between groves of trees.

-Four legged water bugs of various classes skittering effortlessly across the glassy surface, creating concentric dimples.

-Twenty-foot vines dangling off the limestone overhangs swaying languidly.

-A caterpillar, no longer than ¼” aimlessly traversing the surface of a picnic table.

-Freshly burrowed snake holes—as many as nine in a couple of square yards.

-Who needs hallucinogenics when you can stare at the surge pool at the base of a rapid? The patterns are myriad, yet there is a living rhythm that is mesmerizing. Millions of surface bubbles created each instant, only to evaporate within seconds.

-Clusters of igneous and granite encased for millions of years in compressed shale shards.

-Delicate mushrooms with their almost flesh-like gills on the underside.

-A tiny black beetle slaking its thirst on a perfect globe of dew atop a blade of grass.

-Schools of minnows—in the hundreds—pulsing, darting, circling, and even transfixed as a separate, larger organic entity. Apparently not much room for individualism in their realm.

-At least a dozen different types of trees—some stout, others spiking ten stories or more.

-The sound of rushing liquid enveloping upon itself. It is so rich and textured—wholly unique and no metaphor can aptly describe. Suffice to say, it is the sound of life itself.

-A perfectly tendrilled ten inch hawk feather lying randomly in the grass.

-The wet crunch of damp soil, twigs, discarded bark, and gravel underfoot.

-Musk of blackened leaves in the finals stages of decomposition.

-Delicate strands of mossy water weed gently flapping in the underwater breeze of current.

-Sunlight streaming through the canopy of gently tussled leaves—the breeze and shimmering rays being the touches, the denouement as it were, to this symphony of creation.

-Even though I was the largest living thing, besides the trees, in this river bend ecosystem, I began to feel very, very small.

...and that’s a good thing.

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