Tales from a River Bed

I stood there one morning, the serenity of the surroundings mirrored in my face. There, ahead of me, in the river bed with just a trickle of water making its way to the bay in the west was a snowy white egret. It stood there relishing its solitude. I have never seen them in groups in the riverbed. There are a few of them I spot every once in a while, but never together. Further in the distance stood a great blue heron – also alone, its regal grey neck craning to see I knew not what.

Great blue heron – when this grey beauty flies, one’s spirit soars too

This riverbed is an interesting place. Of late, I notice a little red fox darting quickly especially as the sun sets. How one fox cub managed to make its way into the suburban area so far removed from the hills on the other side of town is beyond me. I’ve seen coyotes up in the hills before, but never a red fox. There are many cats slinking around the river. I’ve seen water rats, geese, ducks, ducklings, deer. One some days, we see sheep grazing there, tended lovingly by a horseman with a cowboy hat who eclectically raises his hand in greeting, “Hola Amigos!” , and his shepherding dogs. 

On warm evenings, I am accompanied by cricket songs, and croaking. I read in a non-fiction book by Peter Wohlleben , The Weather Detective, that crickets only chirp when the temperature is above 54 degrees Fahrenheit. That is most summer evenings in California. 

The squawking of geese, the flapping of small wren-like birds, the beautiful chittering of birds, the blackbirds songs, the swooping of the sparrows, and cawing of ravens as they make their way home are all harmonious against the setting sun. The autumnal equinox is here, which means that the sun sets are getting earlier and earlier. Soon, by the time we are done with our host of meetings, life in the riverbed would have quietened down or is at least not visible.

The more time I spend in corporate worlds, the more I relish the simple pleasures of the creatures in the riverbed. True, they are affected more than we think by our lifestyles and the effects. The river -bed is a sad reminder of global warming. The Earth is hot and thirsty and is forever parched. The ribbon like strand of water is heavily regulated and trickles by not so regularly. The river bed itself is fully grown with reeds and tall grasses, creating the perfect camouflage for all the creatures that seek to make this place home.

A distant palm tree reflected in the river

I think the kind of landscape that you grew up in, it lives with you. I don’t think it’s true of people who’ve grown up in cities so much; you may love a building, but I don’t think that you can love it in the way that you love a tree or a river or the colour of the earth; it’s a different kind of love.

Arundhati Roy

But the river bed never looks the same. A trick of the light, the clouds scattered differently, the moonlight, the houses along the banks, and the creatures therein. There is constant change and yet, a constancy in its charm.

This trail near the new nest has become my own version of The Wind in the Willows. I stroll by there, sometimes yearning for the peek at the crane, or the heron, on other days just to catch a glimpse of the deer. Most days I go expecting nothing but come back fulfilled all the same. Some little thing has always worked its magic, and I come back refreshed.

Life’s Lessons – Fun Pockets

Life’s lessons are imparted in many ways. On walks in nature, yaps with the children, and of course in the moments of reflection from the constant doing. 

Sometimes, all these come together in the form of lovable books.

Take these 3 for instance:

  • You are a beautiful beginning – by Nina Laden Illustrated by Kelsey Garrity-Riley. The book takes all of those trite sayings and manages to make it a beautiful compilation of images. A joy to thumb through. Stop me if I have mentioned this before, but the illustrations in children’s books are brilliant, and I am so grateful to be able to see so many of them and appreciate them in my own simple way.

Lovely wise things in beautiful settings:

It is not wishing to be different. It is learning to love being you

It is not about winning the game. It is having fun while you play,

  • You are a beautiful beginning – by Nina Laden Illustrated by Kelsey Garrity-Riley.
    • Wild Symphony by Dan Brown (yes, the author of  Da Vinci Code.) I do think this book is much better than all of his other best sellers (I liked Da Vinci Code, but subsequent ones rambled and tumbled downhill I felt) If I need to remember his work, I would gladly remember Wild Symphony. He manages to combine whimsy, poetry, and music to the most marvelous effect. The illustrator has taken things even further by the beautiful imagery in the book.

    Side note: Dan Brown has become a sort of joke between the husband and daughter.
    You see, we each try to get her to read things that we are fairly sure she will like. With what result? A shrug. Some nonchalance. Maybe a snort. She takes the husband’s recommendation for movies far more than his recommendations of books. I stopped keeping score of the statistics on my side. It was heavy going, and the odds aren’t encouraging.

    Wild Symphony – By Dan Brown, illustrated by Susan Batori

    Anyway, back to Dan Brown, this book is in my opinion his best. Every animal plays a different instrument, and teaches a different lesson.

    Do you feel like a little alone-time would be nice? 

    A swan song would be just the thing

    Do you feel alone in the world?

    A walk in the evenings with Cricket song might be just the cure

    Animal Orchestra – By Dan Brown

    Here is a link to some of the songs in Wild Symphony.

    Really between these books, life does feel meaningful, purposeful and joyful. Most importantly, it reminds us to watch out for wonder and learning on every side.

    The Polar Bears Seem Fine Sans Alarm Clocks

    There are days when one wishes the night went on for just a little longer. Would the sleep doctor approve of that spot of sleep? Did the seconds and minutes really tick off at the right pace?  (Or did they gallop through the night like restless fanciful ponies eager to catch the sunrise?) 

    Sometimes the answer to all of the above is yes. The sun has risen, the birds are chirping, the grass is dewy,  and the world outside is brighter than it should be when the clouds of sleep are still gathering in this manner around one’s eyes. The Earth continues spinning its tale with the lives and destinies of all its living creatures. 

    The previous evening, the son and I went on a bike ride around the time of sunset. We stopped here and there, and there again. The child has tried restricting me to 3 pictures of the sunset everyday, asking me to thumb through previous pictures of sunsets before gorging on some more pictures, all to no avail. The heart wants what it wants, even if the phone storage doesn’t. 

    I moaned and thought of the crane flying overhead the previous day at sunset. I could not get a picture of the flying crane, but the mind’s eye had it captured well enough. He or she must be up looking for their morning spot of nourishment, the little spry red fox that I have spotted in the river marshes must be up and about too. The birds – do they ever sleep in?

    After all our stops, the skies started darkening really quickly and we pedalled back home trying to play a game of Is-that-a-tree-or-a-person? September has started, and the closer we get to the autumnal equinox, the sooner the sun seems to set. The quality of rushed days seems to wrap up quickly with the fiery, hurried sunsets (Forest fires in California make for smog ridden skies but beautiful sunsets)

    The earth continues on with its tilt, hurtling through the expanse, and our consciousness. Meanwhile, the alarm’s snooze went off again reminding me that another day was here, and meetings and invites wait for none. Would it help being a polar bear? Does a polar bear feel groggy after a winter’s sleep? With all this global warming, does it irk the polar bear that it cannot sleep as much as it would like to?

    The nature of time will perplex, and one can only yearn for the days prior to alarm clocks, and reminders. I am sure the polar bears get along just fine sans alarm clocks, and yet here we are.

    The alarm said : Rise and Shine

    Rise and Shine indeed! YOU rise and shine! I want to flop and sleep. I am sure Nanu (the polar bear in the book, Ice Walker – A Polar Bear’s Journey Through the Fragile Arctic) would agree.

    Books:

    Ice Walker – By James Raffan

    Ice Walker: A Polar Bear's Journey through the Fragile Arctic
    Ice Walker – A Polar Bear’s Journey Through the Fragile Arctic – James Raffan