White Pines, Slugs, And a Wayfinding

Before I address the fact that I’ve not posted in a long time, I want to share a story. My three rescue dogs and I walk through our woodlands three times a day, maybe four, maybe more, depending on how the day is unfolding. We walk through a predominantly white pine forest, with some birch, maple, oak, poplar, and beech. The first walk of the morning whether 6:00 am or 7:00 am is a meditative walk for me. It is always a surprise when I hear my voice for the first time each day, and I prefer to do it in private. Lately I have been re-learning how to whistle. I don’t want anyone to hear that, either.

I carry kibble in my pocket for the dogs, and although they take off from time to time, after squirrels – which they can never catch or mice (they can’t catch them either, their underground labyrinth is of such complexity) – they always come back because they know what is in my pocket. By the time they come back, I have reached the neighborhood pond.

I long to make friends with the trees along our various trails, I name them (some of them), and, on the first walk of the day, gift them with the kibble, which I place in niches in their bark. It gives me joy to gift the trees, and I hope/trust they know I honor them. It gives me joy to envision the other-than-human beings who discover the offerings, the creatures of the woods. I know that someone(s) is enjoying these gifts, because the kibble rarely remains by the noonday walk.

One noonday walk, as I checked out the trees where I’d left kibble five hours earlier, I discovered who was benefiting. Slugs. Slugs. I discovered slugs had wrapped themselves around three offerings I’d left on one white pine – my grandmother white pine – and two more on the one adjacent, one of the water protectors.

I laughed with joy over the insanity of it. In my desire to honor and befriend the denizens of the woods, I had been building up a great population of slugs. I laughed because my “growing up normal” had taught me that there was no creature of greater or of lesser value than the human creature, not even slugs. I laughed because I could not pry those slugs off the kibble. It has to be a metaphor for something, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

I tell that story as a kind of farewell, although I don’t know exactly what I mean by that. Maybe I am saying goodbye to a kind of white-bread vision that has failed.

It is true, I have not posted in a long while. Part of the hiatus makes sense; I have been completing a workable draft of my next book. When focus of that particular kind is required, trying to write other things is too distracting. Not that I don’t have time, I do. Focus is the operative word.

The rest of the explanation is more difficult. My desire and intent for the writing I do on this site has always been to lift up what I have assumed (mistakenly, as it happens, and I might have seen this long ago) are the heart longings and heart breakings on behalf of our beloved lands and waters, an earth community crying out to us humans that it is way past time that we find our way back. I have hoped – and by way of confession, this is certainly born of my fear of alienating anyone – that I could propel my words like lifelines directly to our hearts.

I have been mistaken.

I have learned the word entanglement from my brother/mentor/friend Bayo Akomolafe, who – in his redeeming the word from any negative cultural context – has reframed my own reality. We are entangled: human, other-than-human, and our elemental lives of earth, water, air, and fire.

Everything is connected. For fear of alienating those who have clicked “like” on the www.restoringthewaters.com FB page, or, even better (and fewer) who have found the RSS button on the website itself, historically, I have pulled back from divisive opinions but for one: the urgency with which we humans must relocate ourselves within a reality which is web-like. Entangled.

The writing of my book-in-progress is about connecting the dots; nothing exists in isolation. The writing of my book-in-progress has transformed the lens(es) through which I see this world. I am not yet sure what that means in terms of this blog site, but fair warning. . .

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