Image by June Simonton from Pixabay

The Real Thing

Judith Peck, Ed.D.

It struck me that I was looking out at a landscape that was in these moments completely untampered with. The scene was natural, pristine, real. How unusual to feast on something, so genuine. A mist covered the trees and the lawn, a fog not yet lifted embraced everything, joining disparate surfaces and soothing their textures. The air was so still, not a single leaf fell, though it was the 10th day of October. Then at last a lone one did, cascading gently and wavering as if reluctant to fall at all. So still the air, tall trees majestically standing with their vast network of leaves immobile, as if waiting for a whisper from somewhere to summon movement.

I thought about what else in my life was genuine; not a product of something else; something that was as pure, albeit far from simple like those intricately complex trees that would never be completely knowable. My children, of course. The love between them and among us within the complexity of our lives. How fortunate each of us were to share that love as thick as this embracing early morning mist.

But how strange, I thought then, suddenly aware there was no movement of animals to be seen inside this silent mist. The scurrying I saw every morning, chipmunks racing across the lawn quicker that I could draw a pencil line, squirrels in circular leaps with short stops sitting upright to split open and munch an acorn. No birds, not one, nor deer trotting from the woods to steal whatever flowers remained. Everything seemed waiting. Too still, too quiet, eerily so. Like a moment in time stopped, the clock no longer racing forward. Nothing in motion, either forward or spinning around.

I went inside the house. On the news I learned that Hurricane Michael had just struck the Florida panhandle, the worst storm in its history. But no impending storm was predicted here. I put the eerie morning sights out of my mind and started my day, settling on the notion that the natural world in my backyard had engaged in a moment of silence for its kin.

In the afternoon, I stepped outside for a break. High above me, branches gently swayed, multi shades of green leaves glistened in the sun; a chipmunk crossed my path scratching itself between its runs; a bird swooped so low it startled me; squirrels shopped and gathered high in the oaks; acorns fell, one hitting me squarely. Bald spaces on the lawn revealed themselves, puddles lingering on the chairs, rust spots marring a table. Time was moving swiftly, dragging with it an imperfect world careening by: my intricately complex children and the puddles splashing at them and among them, my marring rust spots, the bald spaces that needed filling and maybe never would be. I reveled in it all.