Sunday, April 20, 2014
Yesterday I went to Laguna Lake for a walk. I wanted to be aware of what was there, to notice what was living and growing and happening.
It was overcast, but pleasant. I parked a bit away from the lake to give me a longer flat walk, easy to navigate. As I passed by the area where people can barbecue, I caught the delicious smell of whatever it was they were cooking, and watched the young and the old all taking part, getting stuff out of the trunks of cars, carrying things, cooperating, having fun.
Near the lake, the geese were peacefully plumped down on the grass, not honking and being noisy as they usually are. Coots were walking around taking occasional pecks in the grass, gulls were flying in and out, landing, walking a bit, then taking off again.
I walked on the road along the shore, breathing in the sharp fresh air, seeing birds out on the water, feeling the life in everything around me. I wanted to take in this beauty and this aliveness, to feel separate from the worries of the world, both public and personal. I wanted to feel the presence of my inner self, my real self, experiencing Laguna Lake.
I went as far as the "turn around" where a path begins that goes on out into the fields, but is too rough and uneven underfoot for me to navigate safely. As I came around the turn I was near the small dock where Cal Poly students and others learn how to launch sailboats and how to sail.
There was a solitary crow sitting on the ramp railing and as I watched, he flew down onto the ramp and began walking toward the dock. But every couple of steps he would stop, walk over and look through the uprights of the railing, first on one side and then on the other. He did this very deliberately all the way to the beginning of the dock. What he was looking for I can't imagine, but he seemed to know.
When he reached the dock, he flew up again onto the rail and sat there, looking around. I was conscious of our being together somehow, our connection even in our separateness. The crow seemed to sense my presence as well, and when he took off from the rail flew low and close to me before he rose into the air and disappeared into the trees. It was not aggressive, but like a gentle acknowledgment.
When I was almost to the point where the road turns away from the lake, I heard what sounded like a Meadow Lark coming from some small shrubs or trees on the edge of the lake. I stopped and peered into the branches, following the sound, moving slowly. I looked down to be sure of my footing, and there at the edge of the road was a little ground squirrel sitting on his haunches, looking at me.
I turned my attention to the squirrel and spoke to him gently. Although I was close to him, he made no move to run away. His head stayed turned toward the sound of my voice. After a few moments, he put his front paws on the ground, and then slowly and tentatively began to cross the road, heading toward the grassy fields beyond. I went on my way too, slowly, so as not to alarm him.
At the turn of the road I looked back. He was almost three quarters of the way across the road. Just then, a huge SUV rounded the corner. For a moment I was horrified, thinking it would be the end of my little friend, but the driver must have been unusually observant. He spotted the squirrel, slowed down, and waited for him to get across the road and into the grass before proceeding.
There we all were, separately together in the same moment.