Day 13 - Dog mind Tree mind
I approached Madonna from the seaside. It was well past twilight, the last whispers of orange fading from the western sky. My pattern has shifted to coming to her later at night as stillness takes over the fort.
She is of a beauty I haven’t really begun to address. Part of the reason is all last week I was immersed in a 12-hour a day leadership program called Soul Motion, It would take pages to describe the process and enlivenment from that – but it has shrunk my ability to be with Madonna as I had the week before. The second reason I haven’t begun to address her beauty is that it is slowly, slowly unfolding before me. Each day I take in more detail of her. The gradations and textures of her bark, the way each limb winds its own sensuous course to the sky. The way her leaves make a particular shushing music in the wind. I will say it…I am falling in love.
There’s also the part of this that is hard to write about. I will try. As I walked slowly towards her, her large hairdo soft against the twilight, I stopped maybe thirty feet out. I began to feel a sensation in my face and up the back of my head. A very, very subtle brushing feeling. It was an energy that came to me as I stood there. I then looked up and noticed I was standing just below the outer rim of her leaf canopy stretched thirty to forty feet above me.
I have read many accounts of the energy fields of trees extending dozens of feet from their base. Those attuned to such things can feel them. I have read of rituals of slowly moving towards the tree until you connect with it and each step moving into a deeper ring of feeling almost as if you are being invited in to the tree. There are studies that show the energy of the human heart extends many feet beyond our body. So why not trees, with a few million more years to practice and middle age being 200 years old? They’ve worked some things out.
But until tonight, I couldn’t say that I ever felt the before, from this distance at least. Along with the very subtle physical sensation, what I felt most inside me was happiness. Opening to the energy field of the tree gave me the perception of happiness, for no reason. Just the happiness of being.
In Japan they have a practice called shinrin yoku or “forest bathing.” I suddenly felt what they must feel in doing that. This energy that was washing over me, clearing me, lightening me.
I moved closer to the tree and eventually sat by her trunk and listened to the twilight. Dolly sat next to me, content to just be. To sit and gaze out at the world. To do so under a tree seems such a natural thing for her. She will often sit next to the trunk up on its slightly inclined mound of earth.
I noticed her staring intently off into the darkening field. Then I heard a great blowing of air. There was a large doe standing in the field. It seemed she was aware of Dolly and Dolly of course was tracking her every step. I admired Dolly’s full sensed concentration. Her body was relaxed but focused. The deer from time to time let out a big swoosh of air. I had never heard a deer do this before. I later read why:
The deer forcibly expels air through its nostrils like a greatly magnified sneeze. The deer blows when it detects danger at a distance. These blows are drawn-out “whooshes” repeated several times. Snorts are single, very short, explosive sounds given as the deer turns to run.
There may be three reasons for these sounds. The noise warns all deer that something is radically wrong. The “sneeze” clears the nasal passages, and helps the deer sniff the air better. The sound may startle a predator into revealing its location or leaving the area.
I don’t let Dolly randomly chase deer. This might piss off a few folks - but when I deem the situation right (deer is not in someone’s yard, has a clear escape route and Dolly will clearly not catch it) I let her go for it. Dolly though watched this deer for the longest time, her ears sharpened into triangles. The deer walked steadily across the field. Time slowed as it often does around the tree.
And then without warning, Dolly shot off across the field like a vanilla rocket. Her every limb and bone, muscle and cell flew across the ground in a dog joy full on rush. The deer clearly and easily bounded away to the forest snorting as it went and Dolly loped back with tongue slightly hanging out of her mouth and a contented glint in her eye.
I also have this idea that in a town where upwards of 500 deer wander the neighborhoods, that it does them good to have to be chased from time to time. Their only predator is the occasional coyote. So Dolly is doing an act of service by helping the deer stay on their toes.
We sat together under the tree, breathing into the night. It seems to me that Dolly is free of thought. Sensation yes, a sensory awareness that produces curiosity, alarm, concentration wonder, but not anything I would call thought. It is why her body stays so relaxed and poised. It is thought that tightens the body.
I notice that when I am thinking I cannot feel Madonna. The sensation I felt when I first arrived dissipated as I fell into thinking. When I allowed my thoughts to loosen I could feel the energy again. The second requirement for me to feel her is to slow down. To slow down. That seems to be the primary impulse I feel in her presence a great, great slowing down…As I practice this over the next two weeks we will see what happens.
Dog mind. Tree mind. Night mind. Breathing. Slow.
Tree Haiku - Day 12 tree night I hear this coyote, owl, geese, wind, frog my own heart clear here