Friday, May 11, 2012

Let the Mystery Be

Spring Stream by paynehollow
Spring Stream, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.
I have seen a Mystery.

It was almost certainly a small Mystery, given the scale and small timeline of its Happening.

But then, aren't all Mysteries, at least in some respects, Giant and Impressive - even the small ones?

I was walking along a trail, circling a lake.

It was late evening, not far from sunset; A large hopeful moon was low in the sky.

For a few minutes, I decided to just stand...

After standing silently for a few minutes, I decided to stand for a few minutes more.

At first, I embraced the stillness of this empty trail that circled this calm lake and enjoyed the absence of people, the absence of cars, the absence of radios and yelling... the complete and soothing absence of that monster, Noise.

I stood still for a few minutes more.

Then I began to embrace not the absence of Noise, but a presence - not of the monster, Noise, but of his gentle cousin, Sound.

The sound of a dripping creek stepping patiently towards the lake, the leap of a fish out in the deep water, the sound of birds singing - and not just generic birds singing, but specific birds.

The peeps of cardinals, the changing melodies of the mockingbird, the cantankerous caw of the crow, the glorious songs of songbirds unseen and unknown.

There was the soft blush of the wind in the spring green trees and the sound of upper branches rubbing together in the wind, like a giant grasshopper.

And, beneath it all, I heard the sound of my new Mystery.

I was standing in a small clearing with ankle- to knee-deep ferns and fronds and wildflowers and I heard it: the rustle of a bird skittering through the underbrush - But no, not a bird - more like some small animal, A squirrel perhaps...

But no, smaller than that. A chipmunk maybe? I leaned in to listen and watch more closely.

Then I heard the Sound again, fifteen feet away, and then again, five feet back in the other direction and I realized clearly I was hearing the sound of several small animals ruffling through the underbrush. A whole School of Mysteries.

If I moved and made the least human noise, the sounds would stop.

And so I crouched and stood like a stone.

And watched.

And listened.

Staring into the deep shadows, the ones hidden by other greener shadows, obfuscated by leaves and branches, I saw a movement, and another, but couldn't make out what it was I was seeing. I could tell the presence of the Mysterious Thing not by seeing it, but by seeing it brushing, nibbling, rubbing up against the small leaves and petals and branches around it.

I pulled myself into an even smaller, more still position, willing myself down to Mystery-size to watch more closely yet, and I saw a large movement. The whole stem of a tall blade of grass was shaking, rocking back and forth, and then, it jerked down a half inch, a half inch more, jerking down and down until the Mysterious thing had consumed it, pulled it into its hidden-ness.

I watched this tiny parade of Mysterious Life happening before my eyes for many minutes more. I kept expecting to see a glimpse of a mole, or a fairy, or some Thing specific, but never saw even a glimpse of even one of the characters in this small School of Mysteries.

And the sun continued setting and the hopeful moon rose further and it was time for me to go and let the Mystery be.


Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

There is a variety of wildlife that lives in the leaf cover in a small green patch up against our garage. At night you can hear, from several spaces, whatever-they-may-be hustle and bustle on their nightly rounds. I am always amused and in more than a little awe of the variety of living so close to us, yet so alien.

Dan Trabue said...

"Whatever-they-may-be..." I like that.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

It's just an honest admission that I think they might be mice, with a mole perhaps. Since I've never seen them, though, for all I know I could house a rare species of giant insect that moves in ways similar to these small mammals. Whatever they may be, they go about their business, and I just make sure I do as little to interfere as possible.