It is so easy to fall into old habits, especially when things get busy. Our month, since my last post, has been filled with birthdays, anniversaries, dance competition, play auditions, ballet shows, a book signing, and building a raised garden bed at the library for the summer reading program. It has been a month of celebration, for sure, but has left us all exhausted from the effort.
With the bustle, it was easy to fall off track, or, perhaps, to take a slight excursion off of my MooseBoots path. I have not been foraging everyday. I have not been working forward. While there have been brief, too brief, moments of progress and exploration, I have paused.. When I find myself in situations like this, I have a tendency to become very critical of myself and disappointed, frustrated, with my progress.
I do try to keep things in perspective. Let's face it ... I spent 40 years learning to "play the game." I have been taught the "rules." I am good at the game that we, as a culture, play. One would be hard pressed to find anyone who would not consider me successful. I work hard and typically achieve the desired results in the expected time frame. I am honest, have a strong sense of fair play, and value my personal integrity very highly.
I was a great student, achieving above average grades with minimal effort. I graduated high school with the ninth highest GPA out of 200+ students. I attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute on an 80% academic scholarship. I graduated with a BS in Electrical Engineering in 4 years, while working a full time job to pay the bills.
I was an exceptional soldier. I was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal after only 5 years of military service as a Sergeant (E-5). This was in addition to several Army Commendation Medals and numerous Army Achievement Medals. I was given a lateral promotion to Corporal. This is unheard of in non-combat arms units, but it happened for me because of my work ethic and my ability to fill a position (E-7) several levels higher than that worn on my collar (E-4/E-5).
While some may look at my achievements and argue that I have it all, it is not very satisfying. What does it provide for my spirit? How does it support my soul's purpose? I am a leader, perhaps a "natural born" leader, and I fill the role well. This is, quite possibly, the only piece of the "game" that is important on my future personal growth path.
I have spent the last 2 years trying to become more in-tune with myself, spirit, and nature. In essence, trying to unlearn the rules that society has given me. Anyone who knows me will recognize that I have always liked to bend the rules and stretch them. I don't always conform to expectations - I guess I never have fully. Actually, the effort for the last 2 years has been to re-learn what I knew as a child. I see that my children hold this knowledge. They, as homeschoolers, have kept their sense of wonder, their passion for learning, their zeal for life. It is more difficult for me, who has been through the standard training.
A few weeks ago, at nature class, we briefly discussed bird language, and since then, I have been trying to be more aware of what the birds are saying at different times. I am by no means an expert, but I have become aware of the concept. I have tried to use it to locate Wendy in the forest, and I try to pay attention to how the song changes when I let the dogs out.
Other discussions/lessons in our nature group have prompted me begin plotting about manipulating my environment - in particular the discovery of a huge patch of stinging nettle, and my plan is to gather and scatter the seeds on a hill nearer the house. I want to encourage the plant to grow close at hand to facilitate my foraging efforts. So, you see, I have been aware of the need to forage and have been thinking about this journey. I researched nettles a bit and found that they are prolific in almost any spot, shady or sunny. So, I chose this hill on the side of our road that had been cleared, a few years ago, and sprayed with that green goop the road crews use to seed disturbed soil.
As I turned to return home, I heard a cacophony. Several crows were squawking loudly. I looked and saw them chasing something, a crow periodically swooping at it. It looked like a large cat, but I could not be sure. It turned into a driveway up the road a bit, so I ran to try to find some tracks or get a glimpse of the mystery creature. I looked into the driveway and saw no sign of the animal. I knew it was still around, because the crows were still causing a ruckus, but it was not moving.
I figured that whatever it was was hiding and I would not get a peek. So, I began to scan the ground for tracks. Of course, the road, although it is dirt, is well packed and finding tracks is difficult at my current ability level. I did not find any, but if I had, they might have looked like this.
At some point I looked up, perhaps I was trying to look for a pattern to show me where the track might be. Perhaps, I felt something. I can't say for certain. When I did, however, I saw a gray fox standing at the other end of the driveway. She (I don't know how I know this) was watching me. I crouched down and spoke to her. She stood. Then, I decided that the moment was a precious gift and words were not appropriate. She and I shared this experience for at least 2-3 minutes. Just watching ... connecting.
Gray foxes are crepuscular. It was well past any time she should have been out. I have not gone to look, but clearly she was trying to take something the crows wanted. I believe, on only a gut feeling, that she was out trying to gather food for her kits. I have not seen them. I have not seen any remains of food that the crows and foxes would eat. But I know.
There have been many crows around lately ... more than I have seen before. Wendy and the girls maintain that they saw a raven the other day, and seeing a gray fox in daylight is not a normal occasion. Is there a message here for us? I guess I will be reading, in Animal Speak, what message, medicine, each of these brings. I will have to see if I can piece together a meaning that makes sense to both my logical brain and my intuitive feel.
And so, I continue down my MooseBoots trail.