I have no real excuses.
Though it’s true that I haven’t spent a commitment-less weekend at home since last autumn.
But for some reason, I have not taken much time to sit outside on the deck.
The temperature feels comfortable enough.
And it’s not for lack of scenery: I live in an absolutely precious and beautiful place, punctuated right now by the abundance of new, bright green leaves ripening on trees and bushes and the midseason flowers that characterize springtime. Additionally, I have a growing number of planters crowded with colorful and happy pansies, and a palate of color cascading downward from an overhead flower basket. This weekend I added several buckets of milkweed with tiny orange buds: my commitment to a threatened butterfly population, and to two dear men (a friend specializing in protecting biodiversity and a mentor specializing in butterflies) who have casually urged me to do this one small act; I am also halfway through Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior and cannot help but encourage the winged beauty into my own immediate environment.
But this past weekend it all changed.
I scrubbed the wintertime grime and Saturday’s rain puddles from the concave seat of the deck chairs and I sat outside. I took my good read, my lightweight jacket, my coffee. I enjoyed a few pages and then I paused to consider.
As I did so, my eyes glanced outward: into the vast and exquisite view of the yard, across to the forest edge, sweeping left to right at the flowering and healthily-clad fruit trees and lilac, and deep into the faces of fiery pansies. I was in a reverie, caught unaware by the splendor.
From the edge of my vision, I noticed something on the ground. My full gaze revealed a pair of finches, the male’s head and breast so vividly red I started. No longer aware of blooming things, my focus rested solely on the foraging avians. More accurately, though, my attention was fixated on the impossibly scarlet color of the feathers on the mister finch’s upper body.
It wasn’t a thoughtful or considering or wondering sort of attention. It was the unwavering presence of eyes on color, fascination-in-observance. As Bachelard, the great French phenomenologist, might say: “I” and “the observed” had become one.
Later, I reflected on the experience of pure attention. And all I could reckon as the sum total of those moments was gratitude. Gratefulness for so many springtime gifts in nature. Uncountable. Immeasurable. Immense and striking and transformative.
I imagine I’ll be spending more time outside (on the deck, on the forest pathways, alongside the salty Sound) in coming days, weeks, months. Because it is my prayer, my meditation, my gratitude list, my grounding: Nature.
All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2018 JenniferJWilhoit/TEALarbor stories. AllRightsReserved."