Making the Choice to Go On

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Yesterday was my birthday. Because I have spent so many alone, going on a picnic to a mountainous place with Iren made this day very special. We listened to the sound of rushing water as two streams cascaded down the reptilian junipered mesas to meet just in front of the spot where my friend spread a blue and white checked tablecloth on the ground… afterwards we explored the surrounding streams marveling at the emerald green watercress that grows in such abundance here. Historically watercress grows only in pure waters so I am a bit baffled by the fact that this crystal clear water is apparently polluted.

 

Some boys caught rainbow trout, luminous fish left to gasp for air even as I begged the one to kill the fish. As usual, my request for mercy was dismissed… I should be used to not being heard; naturalists are not taken seriously because we do our work in the field…but each dismissal diminishes the life force in me in some indefinable way. I am growing weary from a life spent advocating for non – human species…

 

There are dancing junipers growing here. Their gray green feathery needles seem more like leaves as they sway in light breezes. These junipers must have adequate water to thrive, and those that were growing around us were blossoming – their bell –like shapes stand out from all the other trees.

 

Iren and I examined the woodbine that had wound itself around a tree. This vigorous plant has bright red stems of deep blue or purple berries and the leaves turn crimson in the fall. Here in the high desert this deep red rivals that of the swamp maples in the northeast and provides a sharp contrast to the deepening gold of the cottonwoods.

 

Each day I have been looking for the first signs of summer’s waning… and the gift I received from Nature yesterday was to glimpse bunches of gleaming golden splotches of heart shaped leaves that were visible on Cottonwoods in every direction…

 

Ah, the turning has begun though the hot summer temperatures continue. An early morning greeting from my two house lizards reminded me that the day would be too hot, and it was…but nothing could diminish the simple pleasure of this simple repast by the waters…

 

Later, when the sky began to darken I sat outside listening to a symphony of cicadas reflecting upon the day and feeling gratitude that I was able to be present for the gifts that had come my way. My thoughts drifted to the Black bears I love so much and an old man who has spent his entire life advocating for these wild creatures without ever giving up, although professionally his visionary perspective has created almost impossible difficulties for him…

 

I recalled a conversation we had last summer about enduring during times of great distress. The words he spoke have stayed with me.

 

“What else can we do but go on?”