The early morning sun looks lost in a pile of low-lying clouds when I step outside for a run. This is the Coast, Victoria to be precise, and us living two blocks from the ocean for the four days we’re here is a treat.
The sidewalk is slippery and the light fog tastes fresh. Except for seagulls and the occasional car passing by, there is no sound. There is so much to see though which is why any louder sounds would be too much. I am as present as I can be and yet turned inwards, having the two worlds immerse in each other. I am part of both.
I run along the wooden fence guarding the trails, separating walking from flying and land from sea. A crow picks at a shiny wrapper for crumbs. She looks at me; I cannot pass without saying ‘hello’ and after one more gaze, she returns to the wrapper.
People walk, some walk with dogs and some without. A couple of the elderly people say good morning with a smile and I say good morning back. The young people look sideways as we pass by each other or they stare straight ahead without any intention to greet. Perhaps the older folk know the value of sharing the space life afforded us all. We’re never alone yet we are. Aloofness hurts the morning but I cannot allow that.
I make a note to greet people. I do most of the time and it feels right. Space shared, presence. Honouring ourselves and each other as we go.
Another crow, black slick feathers gleaning early morning sun rays. I say hello back after he crows at me from his wooden perch the sun picks moisture out of. Morning mysteries. We are not alone. This moment will not come back and I honour it by being present. Two of us are present: the crow and I. I keep on running.
A few steps ahead, a lady stops to photograph an orange bird up in a tree. At the bottom of the tree another crow. Feet lost in dewy grass, no chance of becoming a photographer’s dream subject this morning, it watches people and I cannot not tilt my head in a subtle salute as we exchange a gaze. A measure of presence, a different kind of language, same understanding of life unfolding. It feels like it anyway.
I run down the steps to the small cove I visited yesterday where a slightly wilted pink azalea lays on a fuzzy-surface log. The constant ocean mist keeps it from drying off completely. Alive when you’re not, infused with colour still, adding to a world that is what it is because everything, from insignificant to vital adds to it. You add to it; colours, sounds, whispers, awe for what the day is. Every day.
I breathe, I sift through pebbles for a few seconds, I almost pick up a few white shiny ones, but then I place them on a small log instead. Till tomorrow. I think of the crows that see shiny things and pick them up. I see white shiny pebbles and I pick them up. I smile. Common denominators are uplifting. Life does not come with categories, but with allowing ourselves to keep on being fascinated.
I think of the poem* I read this morning sipping lukewarm coffee.
The sun is now shining victoriously. Its morning wrestle with the clouds is over. I carry sunshine on my back as I make my way up the stairs, back on the trail, homebound. Magic is never complicated.
A bird chirps from a bush. I spot it, I say hello and we both move on. There are calendula flowers in a flower bed; I think of the ones I grow at home, the suns I make into oils and potions, combining worlds.
The last crow I see before I walk inside back to sleepy boys pushes a flattened aluminum can off the sidewalk. I feel embarrassed for the garbage we humans leave behind. The can is not shiny but sorry-looking and the crow accepts it as part of its world. We do too. We encroach, we leave marks, we make it about us too much.
It’s about everything at all times. About seeing, about being present, not to lessen the sparkle but add to it, understanding how everything tumbles until the tumbling stops. Nothing is forever, yet forever is made of days like this.
We add steps on in front of each other, a glance into curious eyes, we say hello in the languages we knows, occasionally forgetting that gazes are just as powerful, ignoring the hello that comes back from worlds intersecting ours. It’s there if we’re there to see it. Here.
*’More rapacious than us, more needy.
They never take the shortest route
and use too many words when a caw would do.
Their hearts work like ours, but theirs are bitter
in our beaks. Even snow can’t take away the taste.
They’re too simple to grasp there is an end to everything.
They don’t know their shadows have blood in them.
They don’t know their souls build nests of sticks
to hold the shiny things they can’t get by without.
O, what the marrow of the wind could teach them,
The river’s gizzard, the deer’s blue lips and tongue.
Until they’re ready, we won’t let them
hear our songs.’
(Lorna Crozier, ‘Crow’s take on man’)