I sat one spring morning feeling a kinship that felt very Wind in the Willows, Frog & Toad, or any other sweet animal story that comes to mind. I thought fondly of the animal characters in my Festivals in the Jungle series (My own characters Oby Elephant, Jenny Rat, Biso Bison et al ).
Spring in the world means that a whole world sits up and takes notice. At least schools still honor this joyous season with a Spring Break. I am happy (and just a little jealous) to see the story book tucked under the son’s arm as he nestles into his reading nook in the mid-morning with his City Spies book, followed by a vigorous hour of television watching on the couch.
While most white-collar job humans have created have schedules and tasks quite divorced from the natural world outside, the bulk of the creatures that we share our planet with, have not fallen to this folly.
So, it is with glee that I stop typing to peer outside the window to see a bunch of squirrels fooling about and squealing – having fun while chasing each other and gearing up for the year ahead. It is with a surge of protectiveness that I look at the thrushes who are building and fortifying their nest in our patio. It is with pride that I look up and see a crow carry a long string in its beak for its own nest. It is with joy that I wait for the ducklings and goslings to hatch so I may see these stellar parents at work showing us a thing or two about parenting.
The other day, the husband & I went on a hike nearby – out on the rolling hills. Hearts a-flutter, toes a-flying, spirits a-singing, water-bottles a-swinging. We prattled on as we ascended the green hills bursting with wildflowers an all sides. The misty air was enhanced by the scents of eucalyptus and pine. The cows and calves grazing in the hillsides are always a joy to watch in spring time. As we neared one particularly narrow path in the trail, a large cow – or rather an extra-large cow obstructed our path. If I had been in the sub-Saharan areas of Africa instead of the lush green hills of California, I might’ve mistaken it for a hippopotamus. Gentle creature as it was, the husband and I exchanged quizzical looks and waited patiently. The poor animals seemed to have an itch and, having no other option, had scrambled up some steep hillsides to get to the fallen tree by the wayside and was scratching itself against the trunk.
We waited. The cow scratched.
We waited some more. The cow turned and scratched some more.
After some more minutes of this thrilling action, we decided to give the poor animal some space and started walking away the way we came.
Had this not happened to us, I might never have believed. But within a few steps of us going in the opposite direction, the cow called out to us. As if to say, “I am almost done. You can come along now.” Some more quizzical looks later, we doubled back. Right enough, the cow turned to look at us, and then ambled away. Slowly on the path, body language saying- come along now, don’t be silly. Of course you can carry on in your little amble beside me.
One time, I remember, a cow calling out to her calf in unmistakable tones of warning as it came close to us. The calf, like most little ones, was curious to see what was happening. The mother gave a warning, and some time later, as more people ambled up the path, called out, “Come here!” – Not in English of course, but in Moo-in-ese, and the calf thought about ignoring her, but then acquiesced, and agreeably went back to its mother only to get a gentle reward of some suckling.
The language of understanding is so marvelous to behold. The world in the spring-time is a place to soak in all these lessons with a beginners mind #Shoshin.
“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
― Bluebeard’s Egg