A Moment of Stillness
Sunday mornings my regular morning farm helper/superstar is off and so I am up early and down with the herd. It’s a really sweet time. Though they may have been awake for a minute, they still are in that soft place of slow movement, yawning and shaking off the shavings from the nights rest. Zorro, my oldest horse, may give the impression of Mr. Grumpy Pants, but if I play my cards just right, and let him approach, the next thing I know he is nuzzling into my chest and I am receiving the kindest love ever. The birds, the squirrels and all sorts of wildlife are up and active. Even the Earth seems grateful for the dousing of rain it received just after midnight. Blades of grass standing at attention with large drops of dew or leftover rain or both reflecting in the sunlight. The dogs are active sniffing and moving. And even my cat Layla has let herself out and is under the huge Cypress tree Romeo likes to chew his cud under when it is hot. I know this because both donkeys stood at full attention, ears extra peaked to the sky looking in that direction. One of the many things I love about my donkeys, is their honesty. 100% of the time if there is a bray or the aforementioned high alert, there is a reason. If they are due to be let out in the pasture at 5 pm, at 5:02 I will receive notice that I am late. They have amazing internal time clocks and the patience to give me 2 minutes before they alert.
At the end of my time at the barn, I heard what sounded like a mother deer in distress. I wasn’t certain it was a deer or that it was distress, but it made me curious enough to go check it out. From the barn, it sounded like it was from the back woods. As I got to the back of the house, just outside of those woods, it sounded like it was north and east. Living here in the foothills there is this unbelievable echo system that happens. I have heard gun shots that sounded like they were at the garage only to find they were at the neighbors on the other side of their property. Sometimes I can hear a conversation from another neighbor out in front of my house like I were right there with them and then go to my barn which is so much closer and not hear a word. Anyhow, with this potential distress call, I decided the only way to find it was to drop down into the woods. When I got down to the creek, I decided to just sit very still and observe. I was immediately taken in by the beauty of the creek through the trees. The calls seemed much further east from here. Off my property far. My skin was enjoying the 10 or more degrees temperature drop.
I have found myself doing this a lot lately. Just sitting and what I’ve started calling “pausing”. It happens a lot in my car. And now, in my golf cart, which is my farm car. I get to a destination and instead of getting out, I just sit there. Really still. Maybe it’s just a safe place to have my time to just be for a while without distraction. I found myself actually doing it a lot when I was still flying to Oakland / Berkeley every month to practice law. After a day of jails, courtrooms, traffic and intensity, I would arrive back at my flat and just sit. And not just for a minute or so- often 15-20 minutes. Once my house mate who had been waiting to talk to me finally came out to ask if I were ok. Yes, just taking a pause. Pausing without purpose is one of my new favorite things. Just sitting there and being, re-energizes me. So, getting back to this morning, I paused at the creek and just sat still taking in all around me. One of the things that’s really wonderful in nature is all that springs to life, in your own stillness. After a while I decided I wanted to try and capture the morning light off the creek and the peacefulness of the moment with a photo. I took a couple and my attention stayed drawn to the same area. In that presence, almost as if I had donkey eyes, I noticed something new in the complete stillness. What had originally looked like a fallen tree branch or other piece of log began taking the form of a small new born fawn. Maybe a few days old. Covered in spots. She had stood this entire time motionless. Once there was recognition on my part and most likely an energetic outpouring of glee, she turn slowly and then bounced down the creek with her perfectly coordinated hops around a corner and out of sight.
These moments of stillness and pause, whether in my car or in the woods, have become a source of respite for me. They were never planned. My body and mind would just go there. That stillness has been such a wonderful gift and one I thought I’d share with you today. Can you see Layla? The fawn?