Sauntering along

November 8, 2007


Now that spring is here the cute echidna has come out of hibernation and can be seen sauntering along in its hungry way looking to terrify any ant colony she finds. A walk along the “Peace?” path reveals upheaved ground where sharp claws and a pointy snout have wrecked havoc on the peaceful ants who, until the echidna’s devastating visit, were simply going about tending to their community’s needs in their highly organised and well thought out manner.

When the marauding echidna brings catastrophe to the ants, how long before they regain sufficient hope to rebuild what was lost? When an earthquake levels a village how long before the villagers find sufficient courage to pile stone upon stone again to wall out danger?

It is not possible to live forever safely out of harm’s way. One can, though, learn to appreciate the terrifying teaching beauty of earth’s awesome intricacies.

And in spring’s profusion of colour, what of the sweet lives of the bees who dart daringly and innocently from flower to flower?


Black Bear in the Orchard

It was a long winter.
But the bees were mostly awake
in their perfect house,
the workers whirling their wings
to make heat.
Then the bear woke,

too hungry not to remember
where the orchard was,
and the hives.
He was not a picklock.
He was a sledge that leaned
into their front wall and came out

the other side.
What could the bees do?
Their stings were as nothing.
They had planned everything
except for this: catastrophe.

They slumped under the bear’s breath.
They vanished into the curl of his tongue.
Some had just enough time
to think of how it might have been —
the cold easing,
the smell of leaves and flowers

floating in,
then the scouts going out,
then their coming back, and their dancing —
nothing different
but what happens in our own village.
What pity for the tiny souls

who are so hopeful, and work so diligently
until time brings, as it does, the slap and the claw.
Someday, of course, the bear himself
will become a bee, a honey bee, in the general mixing.
Nature, under her long green hair,
has such unbendable rules,

and a bee is not a powerful thing, even
when there are many,
as people, in a town or a village.
And what, moreover, is catastrophe?
Is it the sharp sword of God,
or just some other wild body, loving its life?

Not caring a whit, black bear
blinks his horrible, beautiful eyes,
slicks his teeth with his fat and happy tongue,
and saunters on.

Mary Oliver

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