(This is the 7th from my collection of essays. To read the other 6 go here here and here and here and here and here.)
It’s sunny and warm today as Jilly and I walk around the lake. Blue sky and puffy white clouds rise above us and buttercups bloom at our feet. I watch the geese swim in battle formation along the shore line protecting their newly hatched goslings.
I don’t see the goslings, though, and that makes me worried. Who or what are the geese hiding their goslings from? I look up but see only clear sky and the tall fir tree tops are empty. No eagles. No hawks.
As I keep walking, I wonder at this and other things.
Jilly stops and sniffs. She pulls me through the grass, along the lake, around the mounds of goose droppings and over the clumps clover. When she stops, I stop. Sometimes, I’m impatient and want to pull her forward faster. Get the walk done. Go home, have another cup of coffee and read my email.
Today, I stop and feel curious. What is she sniffing? What is the grass whispering to her? Why do the tree trunks hold her nose like a magnet?
I know, I’ve joked that she’s reading her ‘pee’ mail. And, yes, I do think she’s finding out who was here last. Who left their mark or calling card by the tree? But, I think it’s more than that. Because Jilly is trained to walk with me, so for her to stubbornly pull me off the path to some spot in the park makes me sure there is more to it than just sniffing. I wonder if her sniffing is a way for her to gather energy from the earth that she needs. Is it a way to connect with the other creatures in the world? A way to communicate? A connection? Or a collection of symbols that have meaning with every sniff?
A movement in the lake catches the corner of my eye. It’s almost invisible, camouflaged by the leaves and murky water. But I see it and my heart lifts. It’s an otter swimming from one of the little lake islands to the grassy reeds by the shore where Jilly sniffs.
I’ve been wondering and worrying about the otters that live in the lake. I haven’t seen them in a long time. That’s not too unusual, as they’re a shy and close little community. I love them but they aren’t all that popular with everyone in the park. They’ve attacked and eaten a heron, who in all fairness, was stalking the otter’s den. They catch and eat many of the fish in the lake, competing with human fishermen. Crawling up on the shore, they pull up and eat native plants. And they eat eggs from the nests of the ducks and geese. I smile. I’m glad they’re ok.
As Jilly and I wander into the woods, I lead her to the Cedar Mother tree. I lean in, listen and open up to the energy and wisdom from her warm trunk. I feel the tingling and softness along my spine, while my head fills with recent events and questions. I feel the smile forming on my face while I hear the message coming to me.
“Ah, you’re going on new adventures.”
My mind fills again with recent experiences, details and worries. I feel a pause.
“Enjoy the adventure.”
Moving away from Cedar Mother tree, I find Jilly busy, as usual, sniffing by my side. I see Cedar Mother’s message isn’t the only one I’m picking up today. Yes, I have been doing new things with my art and life. I’m feeling exhilarated and overwhelmed.
As Jilly sniffs beside me, I see there are many ways to have adventures. Maybe instead of worry, I can be curious. I can take a tip from Jilly and sniff my way through life. I can walk and take in the new smells, sensations, developments, adventures. And pause to inhale it one scent at a time.
The geese were patrolling. I was worried. Sniffing along with Jilly, I saw the reason: otter in the water. The otter did nothing to the geese or goslings. It was just going with the flow of its life, just like I’m going along with mine.
Enjoying the adventure.