Well, Dear Readers, I did it. Yesterday morning I was up, dressed and driving down the mountain at (gasp!) 6:30 am. My husband calls it "sparrow fart" — that is, waking up just as songbirds release gas from their little birdie bodies. In other words, EARLY. My destination: The Ventana Wildlife Society's Ornithology Lab at Molera State Park. Mission: to band birds in their annual spring-time migratory bird tracking project.
As the sky lightens and I roll down the ridge road and onto the highway, I begin to hear birdsong. Oh, No, I say out loud, go back to sleep, little birdies, not yet, not yet! I'm hoping to pluck them out of VWS's mist nets, hold their delicate forms against my heart as I walk them back to the lab, blow on them, ruffling up their feathers (to determine gender) band them and release them back into the Molera riparian corridor.
But it was not to be. There was no banding happening yesterday morning, the lab's office door shut tight, a bench stacked with several pairs of rubber wading boots beside it. The VWS staff? Sleeping cozily in their nearby trailers, I suspect.
Revising my plan, I start a long-overdue, contemplative walk to Molera Beach.
There's no one else on the trail. Aside from the dawn chorus of the awakening birds, all is quiet. A gentle breeze caresses my face, my stride feels strong. I stop to wander into a meadow, and remember, many years ago, reclining with my husband-to-be there, and breathing together. When did we stop having time to do things like this? Life's such a mystery.
"Everything is simple and obvious." These words float into my mind, and I repeat them to myself as I walk beside the river (surprisingly close to the path, a storm-induced dramatic slice into the meadow some time ago.)
The stillness at the beach is startling in its purity. I sit in the perfect spot and close my eyes, letting the gentle surf and the singing bird nearby fill me up completely for a few moments.
As a modern creature, I wish I'd brought my digital recorder to capture this spontaneous concert. I could post it to my blog/facebook/twitter site! I could figure it out, make a technology project out of this experience. What did the ancients do, instead? They felt the natural world deeply and held it inside them.
Molera is untouched, the broad strokes of its landscape the same as what the indigenous people saw two thousand years ago. It is raw, primal, and inexplicably tender. I could sit here forever, I muse, but of course, not being a bird, a tree or a stone, I can't.
As I walk back, a doe emerges from the forest, stops and stares at me briefly. A little farther on, I spy a tiny, bright-eyed rabbit meditating beside the trail. Although I stand perfectly still and whisper softly to it, like all wild things, it runs away.
Then, as I turn back up towards the road, a little bird starts trilling, perched on top of a coffeberry bush. There we are! My parting song. I'll just have to come back next Tuesday.
Photos by Linda Sonrisa