Monday, September 26, 2011

Simple, Important, Beautiful Things.

Years back, my grandma, mom and I went down to New Mexico to visit my sister who was going to college in Socorro at the time; and also, to see the migration of Sandhill Cranes. My grandma and mom are avid birders. Although, my grandma now says she is "past her prime" and is content to classify the unknowables as "immature." But, she has years experience and wisdom enough to do so. In other words, she has earned the right.

My grandma has a way of describing things which makes you feel that they are simple, important, beautiful, and infinitely complex...all at the same time. That, it is the little things which are worth noting -- the way the sapsuckers eat the suet all a bit differently -- some make little holes and some peck down one whole side -- kind of like people eating watermelons; the way the cats nap in the sun, soaking up rays like a solar panel; and the way the pastors voice quivered as he read a poem before the service on Sunday morning, like the old sopranos leading the hymns. But why are these things important? She knows...

On one of those early New Mexican mornings, everything was still except the air. It trembled, ready and waiting for the signal -- take off. My grandmother held her hands to her chest....it's so primordial...she whispered. And it was -- this migration, and these creatures, who have been doing this for millenia. The dinosaurs saw this, and it was beautiful and important then too. They knew...


It's impossible to tell from whom and from where the ok finally came, but it did, and the squawking crescendoed until it could no more, climaxing into thin air. The tension released...freely. My grandmother's hands still pressed against her chest, as if she was being raptured up with the cranes. When her time comes, I will think of her this way...with the cranes.


And as I walked out on some carp flats recently, and saw backs out of water -- feeding, doing what they've been doing for centuries, I had the same thought as my grandma did towards those cranes -- primordial. Adapting and changing. Revered by the ancients for their persistence and stoicism, the traditional Chinese dragon has the 'scales of a carp' for their shield, and The Dragon Gate enshrines endurance and courage, and the story of a carp who swam upstream and over the waterfall to be transformed into a dragon -- for, it had the heart of one already. In manicured ponds, for luck; or in abandoned gravel mine mud pits, forgotten -- they survive...they always will. They will always do their thing, these river dragons. They're survivors. Just like the cranes.

Why are these things important? I know...

29 comments:

  1. Your grandma knew then that we as humans have to complicate everything, as if to make it seem important. But she, a nature were different, and saw true meaning to simplicity.

    Great post Erin.

    ReplyDelete
  2. So beautiful.

    Life's so rushed these days that it sometimes takes monumental effort to just stop and notice the little details that make it so wonderful to be here at all.

    Glad you reminded me to do that today.

    ReplyDelete
  3. G Lech - Thanks...and I think they probably would have said it just as well without me. ;)

    Brk Trt - She's very wise...and I was lucky enough to have just spent a weekend with her. I learned a lot from her on this visit too...I always do. Thanks for stopping by, as always...!

    Mr. P. - I'm glad you found such within...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Chris - After posting it this morning, I needed to be reminded of it too. Thanks for the good words...and cheers to simplicity!

    ReplyDelete
  5. "She knows.." Nice. It's cool how you appreciate her wisdom...The references to the Chinese/Carp culture blew me away...Great writing.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Why are these things important? I know as well. Carp are important because they make us feel better about ourselves. When times get tough, look oneself in the mirror and mutter these words: "It could be worse. I could be a carp."

    ReplyDelete
  7. Herringbone - Thank you...and she's a pretty cool lady. ;) In doing a bit more research on it...I too was blown away by the cultural significance the carp holds.

    Kirk - ha! Although, carp always have a way of making me feel pretty horrible about my skills as an angler...a way of depressing me like no other. But you're right...I'm glad I don't have their lips, at least!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I can always count on getting my zen quota for the week by checking in on you!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Tim - I'm very glad you read my thoughts, ramblings, and ruminations -- and moreover, that you find them zen. :-) Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Lovely picture of the cranes in flight. Saw two blue cranes on Saturday, our national bird, on the side of a pond much like you carp pond picture. There are only 6,000 breading pairs left in South Africa, when once they numbered in the tens of thousands.

    ReplyDelete
  11. When I read other blogs, I usually read fast in order to pick something up that I can use while tying or fishing. But with you (and this post is a perfect example again), I just sit down and take my time to enjoy and look at things in a different way. Thanks again Erin!

    ReplyDelete
  12. One mans trash fish is another mans treasure.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Kirk - thanks for the chuckle.

    E - When I saw the picture in my reader this morning I thought "Erin and her grandma hunt goose?!". I see you two hunt something far more elusive and rewarding.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I think once one realises a certain age you begin to see more of what is around you and the more you see the more you wonder and with wonderment occasionally comes understanding.

    Lovely stuff as usual Erin

    ReplyDelete
  15. Phillip - Blue Cranes have the loveliest tails (I just looked them up). I hope their numbers increase...

    The Lonesome Piker - Many thanks for the kind words, and in this case, I'm glad to take your time. ;)

    Kev - 'Tis true...

    Steve - Haha! My grandmother would be aghast at the thought of hunting geese!

    Tom - "with wonderment occasionally comes understanding"...now that, sir, is lovely. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Excellent. I can hear the almost clicking like clucking of cranes overhead playing in my memory, and the carp-dragon connection....yeah.....good.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Kentucky Jim - Many thanks for the good words...

    Rhythm Rider - Ah thanks...glad you enjoyed the connections made!

    ReplyDelete
  18. This post reminds me so much of Sharman Apt Russell's book Standing in the Light. She talks a lot about the meaning of things. You might enjoy it.
    Thanks for writing, Erin.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Andi - From the look of it, I think I would too...and requested it to be sent over from another library. Thanks for the recommendation. And also, thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment...you're an inspiration to me as a writer.

    ReplyDelete
  20. "primordial"

    long before we got here, and long after we are gone these fish (birds,animals,etc) will continue to do what they have done for centuries. A very humbling thought. It is a great gift to recognize such things.

    enjoyed the read a ton. thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  21. When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.
    G. K. Chesterton

    Erin ~ "She Knows" ~ "They Knew" ~ "I Know" .... Beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Sanders - Very humbling indeed...and kind of comforting to be 'put in your place' in a good way.

    Jim - Chesterton is a favorite of mine! Thank you, sir!

    ReplyDelete
  23. What more can I say that hasn't already been said? You are amazing.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Cofisher - Ah, I just tell stories...

    ReplyDelete
  25. Such a wonderful piece...So elegant, reflective, and personal all at once.

    Thank you,

    For the love of fishing.

    ReplyDelete