"Tell me what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" Mary Oliver
In defiance of us busy, judging, task-oriented people, grasshopper observing poet Mary Oliver asks:
"Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?"
In my growing up rural 1960s Ohio yard, I, too, contemplated grasshoppers. And praying mantises. And ant
beds and squirrels and--at night--swooping bats. I searched clover beds for elusive four leafed treasures. I made dandelion
chains. I smelled Grandma's roses in Grandma's rose garden. A beautiful white pinked tipped rose named Peace was her
favorite. I trimmed Mom's peonies. The peonies were heavy and fecund in their perfume. Bees hummed. I climbed backyard
pear, plum and apple trees. I took books with me. I read books in trees. My hair then was golden from the summer sun
and so I see myself a golden girl in an Ohio tree with a book. I like that me. I love that me.
I remember my cousin Mike with his shoe boxes of skin shedding mantises. Mike
took excellent care of those elegant creatures. I remember too my mother working through her worried patience, saying things
like "Mike, they can't get out of that box can they?"
I was probably eight years
It is the last time I remember contemplating grasshoppers. Or praying mantises. I've
been busy with a whole lot of other stuff since then.
When in a proper 2019 mood, a Florida backyard iguana charms--and exasperates as there
are so many of them now! But I am in such a mood. The iguana's hind legs are sunshine splayed as it basks by the small
lake behind my house. Its scales are lifted like nettles. Or perhaps they're more like a gone awry gooped mess of a
teenage hair design. I see little nobbily things under its chin. My content and unkempt iguana needs an old fashioned
iguana make over. Yet there it sits, slit eyed, satisfied and sunning.
It peeks from one eye. Apparently
it decides I am of good will and ignores me.
Muscovy ducks. They charm too. Especially
on a proper mood evening. One, it's wing damaged, bent and misshapen, is my backyard waddling favorite. It keeps up
with its able bodied peers the best it can. My husband and I assure our broken winged--and let's be honest, hideous--Muscovy
gets its share of the stale bread too.
"Tell me what it is you plan to do with your
one wild and precious life?" I now fill my one wild life with sunshine on a small backyard lake. A broken winged
duck this evening. It is more than its wing. It is a eager searcher--of food primarily.
starlings have returned to the stoic avocado tree and its nest hole. They are my delight this morning. "They're
back!" I exclaim to my sleeping husband. "Our birds are back! They've brought friends!" Coffee
in hand, I listen to my starlings' warbles and trills. There is nothing, in this moment, more than this.
Flowers. I look closely this morning. Buds! Everywhere buds on my rescued plants. I am
indeed a plant rescuer. I forage at Lowes through the "sale items"--one, two dollar formally glorious (and
overpriced) preening, proud plants now desultorily relegated to shelves on the "last chance" shelves. They
seem grateful for my efforts.
I talk to plants. I talk to trees and birds too.
Today, I watched and listened to birds. A proud starling atop an avocado tree limb robustly trilling a
return song. It's mate in and out of its and my lovely, old and stalwart avocado tree's hole.
me. What else should I have done today with my one wild and precious life?