Maybe another language has a word made just for this feeling; but in English, one would begin with the word Joy...then add Awe and Wonder and Gratitude, and certainly Love.
Well. Living in a city, I see only small pieces of that immense sky. Bits of woodlands, patches of prairie, wetlands flanked by highways, lakes reshaped by human agency. No vast spaces teeming with wild creatures. Wildness, yes; no wilderness.
But I do see acorns.
This, I've decided, is the time of the acorn moon, a fruiting year. In the park-that-used-to-be-oak-savanna, they crunch and roll underfoot, strewn across my path where they tumbled from their parent trees. Acorns wearing rough, prickly caps pulled down low over their smooth hazel faces. Acorn pairs and clusters, cracked-shell acorns, acorns with small holes gnawed by grub or beetle, ghosts of acorns in tannins imprinted on the walkways.
And they lay not in miserly hundreds, but in thousands, hundreds of thousands...mounds. Heaped about in glorious plenitude, grown to propagate and nurture what they will: squirrel, white-tailed deer, duck. Pheasant. Wild turkey, Blue Jay. Woodpecker, mouse, bear. (Plus, pigs; at least in England. Now, if I had a pig....)
Through the metaphoric lens of the acorn, I get a sense of the hugeness of the wild world, its utter and splendid generosity. Nature does not play small.
If I lived my life on the same grand scale, what would it look like? Because I am itching to open it up, to growgrowgrow. I long to hitch a ride on wildness's back, become one of its children, become one with its daily miracles. They go on all the time, is what I'm saying, whether or not we notice. Right now: miracle! Every moment. It is astonishing how many of them that I have taken for granted, how many nearly all of us take for granted.
Maybe I could have inferred nature's quiet yet immense doings from observing one autumn, or even one acorn; but that is reasoning, and what I am talking about is belonging to this wildness, not being outside of it, because I'm through with that. Finding where it lives in me and singing it back, the wonder song, through the rhythm of my heart, my breath; the dilation of these pupils, prickling of this skin, rushing of blood, the spring of muscle and tendon.
Letting this belonging change me, carry me somewhere deeper, stronger, brighter and darker. Because I get the feeling that I am seeing and feeling only the smallest bit of what is there to be seen and felt.
Now, right now, the bones of the woods and bluffs thrust forth from the withering masses of high summer's green, the way a face angles from youth into age.
Red-tailed hawks perched on light poles along the highway, the spinning down of summer in the crucible of September and all the millions of things I don't see, but that call me to shake off this worn-out illusion of separation, if I can. To come home to here.
I load up my pocket with acorns for the oak-less squirrels living in our silver maple. We are entering the time of feasting.
What is the world? What is it for?
It is an art. It is the best of all possible art, a finite picture of the infinite. Assess it like prose, like poetry, like architecture, sculpture, painting, dance, delta blues, opera, tragedy, comedy, romance, epic. Assess it like you would a Faberge egg, like a gunfight, like a musical, like a snowflake, like a death, a birth, a triumph, a love story, a tornado, a smile, a heartbreak, a sweater, a hunger pain, a desire, a fulfillment, a desert, a waterfall, a song, a race, a frog, a play, a song, a marriage, a consummation, a thirst quenched.
Assess it like that. And when you're done, find an ant and have him assess the cathedrals of Europe.
Photos: Caponi Art Park, Eagan, MN.