… For people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig of curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.
- Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Dr. Suess
The rain came last night, finally. It arrived on the heels of midnight heat lightening, which we watched from our front stoop, feeling small and exhilarated. This morning, the air is clean and breathable, with that summer smell of warm, wet concrete. The mustard greens in our garden, the crows perched in strange, catatonic states with their beaks slightly open, the burn in my lungs from particulate matter hanging in stagnant air - all of us, together, have been waiting for release from the parched throat of summer.
Robby and I fly to England in less than three weeks. Our books are slowly making their way into boxes; other than a few chosen ones, they are companions reluctantly left behind. We’re sorting through scattered pieces of this past year’s adventures - unidentified feathers, sketches of otter and raccoon tracks, tincture bottles, field guides. Each object carries memory, bringing to mind Methow Valley, Oregon Dunes, Mojave Desert, places that have been our teachers and our friends. I’m trying to winnow my wardrobe down to a few essentials - wool pants, rain boots (I suppose I should start calling them “wellies”?), favorite underwear. The leaving that is coming now permeates the time I spend with my family; I have never truly left home before. I am ready to go. Devon, in southwest England, so far looks like my oyster for a time, with its physical beauty and high concentration of projects aimed toward ecologically literate livelihood and culture. Robby is ready, too. He’s going to Schumacher College to do a master’s program in Holistic Science. He’ll have the opportunity to study with ecologist and writer Stephan Harding, whose Animate Earth was formative in his understanding of the world. He told me recently that this is the first time he’s going to a place where he feels like he is supposed to be. We’re both a bit restless now, plans for a new adventure set in motion, on the cusp of becoming real, anticipating the messy richness that accompanies the actual unfolding of things.
Moth emerged this morning from her cocoon, but it was a fatally false start (and probably our fault). We’d found the cocoon in our house and put it in a mason jar, curious to see what it would become. But evolution didn’t prepare her to come out of her metamorphosis in a jar. A sticky fluid released during the process got stuck to her still-folded wings, holding her to the glass, and freeing her was impossible without damaging them. I do not know how long her changing form had been preparing for this moment of emergence, and felt a deep sadness for having made an exquisite process so hapless. We shook her delicate body out the window to the chickens.
I am reminded of Rowan, age 6, who found a baby dragonfly at summer camp yesterday. My group, the self-named “Steller’s Jay Nature Detectives,” was playing by the water at Seward Park, some riding a log-ship across imagined oceans, others listening to the perfect plunking of stones thrown into the shallows, still others telling me seamless stories of camping trips and bear tracks and TV characters I don’t recognize. And quietly, Rowan finds a tiny, electric-green dragonfly, holds it in his palm, and then on a stick. Eventually, the others notice, and the baby insect is passed around - invoking surprising gentleness in our energetic group. Every so often it stretches out it’s wings, trying to drying them out. Little flutters toward growing up. For almost an hour, we collectively keep an eye on this bright creature, passing from one child’s care to another, until Ben suddenly makes a startled noise - “It flew away!”