Monday, November 15, 2010

Bare Bones

There is a gentle rain falling today outside the door to the back porch. The droplets fall with varying intensity upon untold numbers of fallen colored leaves, and this softens their impact, quieting them, and it makes for a peaceful, relaxing day, devoid of any pressure to get horses riden or to get any of those pesky outside jobs done. They will wait. Today is for tea, and for doing some writing, and perhaps some painting. There is also the strong possibility of my doing some sewing of some sort, but anything might happen. There is just a relaxing of my shoulders in this being relieved of outside duty, a free pass from farm world, courtesy of Mom Nature, and  it is greatly appreciated.

Yesterday we wondered back to the creek bed again. It is still very dry and the water was even lower than the last time we were there. There were many more leaves on the floor of the creek bed and many animal tracks telling the story of their need for the diminished water supply in our area. Deer tracks were the predominant ones, of all sizes from the heaviest adults to the tiny sharp imprints of fawns. There were skid marks where several had misjudged the slipperiness of the blue hard packed clay near the remaining pools, where they came to drink. Raccoon hand prints overlaid some of these, as did fat tracks of cows.

In one of the longer pools it was evident that an animal with a belly about a little less than a foot wide, had crawled thru it leaving a path thru the leaves exposing the sand below. Alligator? Perhaps. It is quite possible and very interesting to think so.

The light was not as spectacular as the last time we had been there and the element of surprise was diminished but it was nice to just be wandering with no purpose, in a pretty place with no agenda. The fun part about going to a place with very little idea of what you might find, is that that is what you do sometimes find, the unexpected, is sometimes amazing and boarders on the magic.

Mark was busy taking photographs while I was taking in the stories these footprints told. Following a trail of tracks, I ventured up the sides of the creek to visit with one of the largest two trees I have ever been around. The main tree was a cypress, firmly planted in a huge sand bar, with its roots and knees circling its base in a 50 ft. or so perimeter. Growing out of the massive root system closer to the creek was a huge sycamore, climbing towards the heavens with glowing white bark and shaking yellow leaves. These beings, albeit vegetable, were alive and were presences to be admired. I walked close to the cypress and put my palm towards the bark and felt its energy, the heartbeat of a tree. I was awed.

I noticed a few feet away, in this lovely grove of these two giants and its supporting group of mock orange trees, that a cow skull lay in the sand, upside down and bleached white. I snapped a few shots with my cell phone and then noticed more of this poor dead cow's skeleton scattered around its final resting point.

This cow's carcass had obviously made dinner for many a scavenger as the bones lay in a circle a good ways away from the skull, a heavy thigh bone here, and toothless jaw over there, and varying leg parts that I couldn't really tell what they were, all here and there, pulled away from the source and picked clean.

I started to gather these relics up and called Mark over to see them. He told me to place the other bones around the skull and he began taking photos of the still life of bones. I gathered more and slowly the grouping began to take on a renewed life of its own. 

In the deep white sand surrounding the cypress giant, I happened to see a piece of whitened bone, perhaps a vertebra I guessed, sticking out of the ground. When I pulled on it, it quickly suggested it was not a mere back bone, but with a bit of digging I was able to pull the whole treasure out. It was an entire pelvis, white and unbroken, preserved by being covered with sand so that no small rodent could chew the bone for calcium supplementation. It was massive, and yet the abstraction of it not being attached to the cow, lent itself to new interpretation, and gave it new  suggestion and life.

It is interesting to me that we as humans, and perhaps other animals do too, tend to involuntarily try to see the face in an abstraction. We want to recognize the face, and in seeing something with such symmetry as an upside down skull, or cow pelvis, out of context, and it is amazing how quickly the abstract becomes a personality to our brains.

Such was the case with the pelvis, which soon became referred to as Elvis. Mark took many photos of our new found friend, that are haunting and surreal, ones that transpire mere cow bones in a grove. We left the re found bones of the displaced carcass back rejoined with the skull, but borrowed the pelvis and hope the deceased won't mind that we took it home. What a gift this ol' cow left behind.

It just doesn't take that much to find magic in life, but it does require an effort. It is out there and it is everywhere, if, you get off the sofa and open your eyes and see it and feel it. It is amazing to have had such experiences in this one place, so close to my back door, in this jumble of trees by a creek bed. Ireland was a magical and mythical place to visit of course years ago, but this little spot in my back acreage ranks a pretty close rival. The shaking yellow leaves and sky stretched trees, bleached white cow bones, and possible alligator trails of yesterday left me feeling refreshed and happy to think that there are still mysteries and things to be discovered. It is hardly ever a bad day to walk in the woods, and Elvis concurs.

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