Friday, January 2, 2009

Greeting the morning

"I watched prairie dogs every day, rise before the sun, stand with their paws pressed together facing the rising sun in total stillness for up to 30 minutes," says Williams. "And then I watched them at the end of the day take that same gesture 30 minutes before the sun goes down they would press their palms together in perfect stillness. I don't mean to anthropomorphize, but when you look at a creature that has survived over the millennium begin and end each day in that kind of stance, it causes one to think about one's own life and speed and rapidity in which we live."

Finding Beauty In A Broken World by Terry Tempest Williams, an environmentalist committed to showing man's impact on the land.

My friend Geva sent me this piece from Terry Tempest Williams. I really love it.
In my science training, we are taught not to anthropomorphize- not to put human feelings, ideas, behaviors on other animals. This is a fairly strict rule. While reading Terry's beautiful writing and looking at her picture, I remembered an experience I had in Joshua Tree one hot summer.
It was August 2001, and the daytime temperatures were reaching 110+. (That was the day the air conditioner broke down at the retreat center).
It was a beautiful natural area, and I'd been looking forward to seeing lots of animals during that week, but because of the heat, I rarely saw any. But there was one day, at dusk; it had been marginally cooler that day and I was out enjoying the sunset. I suddenly noticed all kinds of birds, flying in, perching on nearby cacti. I also noticed they were all facing towards the sunset. They were unnaturally quiet, still: no bird song, no twitching, no territorial fights: just facing the sun in an attitude of reverential quiet. In that moment, I knew absolutely, without doubt: the animals were honoring the setting of the sun (and perhaps giving thanks that the fierce heat was abating). I felt goosebumps on my skin, and I also felt the sense of being in the presence of something deeply sacred.


1 comment:

  1. It seems that in the winter, when all the deciduous trees are bare, the country crows gather up in larger crowds in the tallest elm tree. There is some ruckus with the gathering, rounds of greeting calls, and rearranging of bodies upon the tree with new arrivals. Then there is silence as we all wait for the arrival of the sun. There is absolute quietude...even the starlings and the jays in the tree tops 5 acres away are still. Then the beautiful light gathers below the eastern skies. Once the sun gleans over the horizon, between Tahoma and the Bald Hills, the top crow calls out singularly, just a few caws. A few quick moments pass before all the rest chime in. Then, off they go in various directions. The small crow family that has the territory on the land will fly back to the Doug Fir stand and begin their busy day, just as I do.

    Loved the prairie dog photo!

    Jana Wiley