Just stories
"Into the Woods" series, 51: Tales of a Half-Tamed Land

Down by the riverside

River 1

River 2

From "We Bear You in Mind," a letter to future generations by Scott Russell Sanders:

"You are still curled in the future, like seeds biding your time. Even though you are not yet born, I think of you often. I feel the promise of your coming the way I feel the surge of spring before it rises out of the frozen ground. What marvels await you on this wild Earth! When you do rise into the light of this world, you’ll be glad of your fresh eyes and ears, your noses and tongues, your sensitive fingers, for they will bring you news of a planet more wonderful and mysterious than anything I can tell you about in mere words.

"Mere words are all I have, though, to speak of what I’ve treasured during my days, and to say what I hope you’ll find when you take your turn under the sun. So I write this letter. As I write, I’m leaning against the trunk of a fat old maple in the backyard of our house here in the southern Indiana hills. It’s early one April morning, and the birds are loudly courting. I’m surrounded by the pink blossoms of wild geraniums, the yellow of celandine poppies, the blue of phlox. A thunderstorm is building in the western sky, and a brisk wind is rocking the just-opened leaves. My pleasure from wind and rain, from cloud drift and bird song, from the sound of creeks tossing in their stony beds, from the company of animals and the steady presence of trees — all of that immense delight is doubled when I think of you taking pleasure one day from these same glories."

River 3

River 4

"I hope you will find companion trees of your own, where you can hear the birds hurling their lusty cries and watch the flowers toss their bright blooms. May you climb into the branches to feel the huge body swaying beneath you and the wind brushing your face like the wings of angels.

"I hope you’ll be able to live in one place while you’re growing up, so you’ll know where home is, so you’ll have a standard to measure other places by. If you live in a city or suburb, as chances are you will, I hope you’ll visit parks, poke around in overgrown lots, keep an eye on the sky, and watch for the tough creatures that survive amidst the pavement and fumes. If you live where it never snows, I hope you’ll be able to visit places where the snow lies deep in winter. I want you to see the world clarified by that coating of white, hear the stillness, bear the weight and cold of it, and then relish warmth all the more when you go indoors. Wherever you live, I hope you’ll travel into country where the land obeys laws that people didn’t make. May you visit deep forests, where you can walk all day and never hear a sound except the scurry and calls of animals and the rustle of leaves and the silken stroke of your own heart."

River 5

"Thoughts of you make me reflect soberly on how I lead my life. When I spend money, when I turn the key in my car, when I vote or refrain from voting, when I fill my head or belly with whatever’s for sale, when I teach students or write books, ripples from my actions spread into the future, and sooner or later they will reach you. So I bear you in mind. I try to imagine what sort of world you will inherit. And when I forget, when I serve only my own appetite, more often than not I do something wasteful. By using up more than I need -- of gas, food, wood, electricity, space -- I add to the flames that are burning up the blessings I wish to preserve for you."

River 6

"If we take good care in our lifetime, you’ll be able to sit by the sea and watch the waves roll in, knowing that a seal or an otter may poke a sleek brown head out of the water and gaze back at you. The skies will be clear and dark enough for you to see the moon waxing and waning, the constellations gliding overhead, the Milky Way arching from horizon to horizon. The breeze will be sweet in your lungs and the rain will be innocent."

River 7

"Thinking about you draws my heart into the future. I want you to look back on those of us who lived at the beginning of the 21st century and know that we bore you in mind, we cared for you, and we cared for our fellow tribes -- those cloaked in feathers or scales or chitin or fur, those covered in leaves and bark. One day it will be your turn to bear in mind the coming children, your turn to care for all the living tribes. The list of wild marvels I would save for you is endless. I want you to feel wonder and gratitude for the glories of Earth. I hope you’ll come to feel, as I do, that we’re already in paradise, right here and now."

And indeed we are.

River 8

River 9

River 10

These photographs of Tilly and Howard were taken on Tilly's last walk before her operation. She's been through a lot since then, with a quiet courage and a steadfast trust in us that melts my heart. Every day now she's a little bit better, her joie de vivre returning with her strength; and soon we'll be rambling the woods and fields and riverside together once again.

Patience, patience, Little Sausage, I tell her. We're almost there.

River 11

River 12"We Bear You in Mind" was first published in Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril, and reprinted in Orion Magazine. You can read it in full here. The poem in the picture captions is from The River at Wolf by Jean Valentine (Alice James Books, 1992). All right reserved by the authors.

Comments

My god, that poem. These pictures. And Scott Russell Sander's beautiful letter. Absolutely sublime.

I totally agree!

Beautiful; this spoke deeply to me now, with my son rolling about in my belly. I thought only of him, having missed, with the first reading, the intention that the letter is for future generations. But he is a part of that... it is for him, too. I wrote a blessing for him a couple months ago, trying to convey these kinds of hopes.. a hope for a home, for kinship with the earth, for connection with fellow humans. I'm afraid it got very sentimental, but I couldn't help myself. Sometimes when we reach so far into ourselves we can only write about love.

Devon truly is Faerieland. These photographs are exquisite. And what a good life you are giving to Tilly. Not every dog gets to live in Faerie.

So beautiful...pictures and poem and letter...it took me into a new frame of mind...which I think art means to do. Thank you!

I think this speeks to us mothers and mothers-to-be most, maybe because we are so much closer to earth, at least some of us for a while.

It angers me to think that we are closing a door for those who come after us. If at all we're going to be remembered as the ones who locked themselves out of paradise, swapping clear skies, birdsong, the smell of rain and the fellowship with all the living things for plastic, greed and fake communities. I doubt there are enough people caring that deeply not only for their children, who might be lucky enough, but for their childrens grandchildren and generations hundreds of years in the future, who might as well never know that our legacy makes their lives short and miserable.

Hi Terri

So glad to hear Tilly is on the mend and recuperating; and you as well. I wish you both all the best and continue to hold you both in my prayers.

This piece is extraordinarily beautiful accompanied by equally beautiful pictures. I adore the philosophy expressed here and totally agree there is so much to learn from the woods, the river, the soil and its numerous inhabitants. The earth is a great teacher and we have only to discover her wisdom and ability to both enlighten and heal us. Our children and their children need desperately to be "rewilded" in the best possible essence of that concept.

Native people have always had that affinity with nature, the ability to absorb their spirit into that of the earth and all the creative energy, beings and structures it bears. Crones, Shamans,
solitaries, hermits and others of this ilk hold such fascination for me because they have mastered the craft of listening and learning the ways of the natural environs and all things engendered from it. Today's wonderful blog post reminds of a poem I recently wrote -- and the is piece has also provided a wonderful quote to serve as a prelude

The Shaman's Bride

One day it will be your turn to bear in mind the coming children, your turn to care for all the living tribes.


I enter his house. The room antlered
in burning rushlight.
The cold sod beneath our feet.

He hands me a shawl
made of deer pelt.
Its lining spun
from the mountain fog.

"Wear this," he whispers,
his eyes glimmering
the gold of pine sap

"and you will learn
all you need to know:

How to move silent but unseen,
shift from the shape of flesh to fur,
choose the best of branch or stalk,
heal from the bane of bite or sting,
read the drift of wind or cloud,
sense the fear in herd or flock,
and listen for stones that sing
and spill water. They tell of us --
in light and shadow.
They witness our seasons.
___________________________
Many thanks!
Wendy

I forgot to give credit to the source for the opening quote

The Shaman's Bride

One day it will be your turn to bear in mind the coming children, your turn to care for all the living tribes.
Scott Russell Sanders


I enter his house. The room antlered
in burning rush light.
The cold sod beneath our feet.

He hands me a shawl
made of deer pelt.
Its lining spun
from the mountain fog.

Wear this, he whispers,
his eyes glimmering
the gold of pine sap

and you will learn
all you need to know.

How to move silent but unseen:
shift from the shape of flesh to fur,
choose the best of branch or stalk,
heal from the bane of bite or sting,
read the drift of wind or cloud,
sense the fear in herd or flock,
and listen for stones that sing
and spill water. They tell of us --
in light and shadow.
They witness our seasons.

This is lovely, Wendy. Especially, for me, the line: "read the drift of wing or cloud". And that first stanza. Just beautiful.

Thank you so much for sharing these pictures from your walk. My heart thrills a bit whenever I see water here. =) So glad Tilly is feeling a bit better. I hope you are too.

Oh dear, I meant wind, not wing. I wish I could edit my comments, I often catch typos too late. Apologies!

Thank you for a lovely post. Sending healing and blessings for you all, but especially Tilly, the dog who lives in faerie.

Tilly The Dog Who Lives In Fairie

Tilly the dog who lives in faerie
We see her through her woodland
Adventures, her uncommon beauty,
Reclining under medieval tapestry
Sitting upon a magical green hill,
Her brown eyes taking in the magic,
Ponies and cattle, sheep and persons
Some going along, the streams,
Under the trees, in and out and
Under, doors and gates to fairyland.

We who follow her adventures
And her person who gives us more
Magic and thoughts, beauty in
All things, new perceptions
Of ancient secrets; it is a tale
Of truth, of romance, of not so
Common common sense. Earth
Sea, our home; Tilly leads us
On crooked pathways, she
We share. Oh what a fairy world,
Where we are all good, and kind.

That is, we leave our worst selves
Outside of the faerie where Tilly
Lives. We are both young again
And ancient. For me it is our
Other home, safe and inviting.
She wags her tail and leads
Us on, the spiral of life and joy.

Another tale told in a poem. Musical and charming...to be the student and lover of a Shaman and what you give in return.

It is indeed heart-breaking.

Oh my gracious, I love this, Wendy. And, oddly, it perfectly echoes a dream I once had, while camping in a wilderness area of southern Arizona (the Cabeza Prieta). So I had shivers as I read it....

I've read this aloud to her and she's thumping her tail, a definite sign of approval! Thank you from us both, dear.

Thank you all for the lovely messages. Tilly is doing well, though she has small infection in the area of her stitches and will be on antibiotics for the next few days. But we're hoping that once it's cleared up, she'll be able to resume her beloved walks again. Fingers crossed.

Hi Edith

So glad you enjoyed this one and deeply appreciate your kind words!! I know all too well , myself, about typos. I make them all the time. But again thank you for this lovely comment!

Much appreciation!
Wendy

Hi Phyllis

Your lovely perspective and summary of this poem are very deeply appreciated!! I am glad you enjoyed this; thanks again so much for reading and commenting!

My Best
Wendy

Hi Terri

Wow!! That is extraordinary and the place sounds very beautiful. Love the phonetic echo of the name. And thank you so much for sharing that with me and for reading this poem. Your gracious comments are so vey much appreciated!!

Take care
My Best
Wendy

P.s. so glad to hear Tilly is doing better!

Hi Phyllis

Tilly leads us
On crooked pathways, she
We share. Oh what a fairy world,
Where we are all good, and kind.

I could not agree more!! What a charming and magical portrait ( also so true) you paint of this beautiful animal. I loved the words in this piece and the direction it takes.

Thank you for sharing,
Wendy

This fantastic. I write a poem for a black dog who is real, and who gets to listen to our
poetic tributes. Halfway around the world. A poem I had to write after I saw Peg Cartano's charming post. I smile. Isn't this a lot like....magic?

Thank you. Luck of inspiration.

Beautiful. The woods quite literally saved my life when I was younger.

The story reminds me of this: http://www.wolfnowl.com/our-stories/mikes-stories/again/ and http://www.wolfnowl.com/our-stories/mikes-stories/jackson-park/

Mike.

Fng-rs crxossed!

(makes it hard to type, though...)

Thanks for sharing, Mike.

Bless you.

To Terri, Tilly and all who wrote such beautiful words above, I have been enraptured by the beauty of the forest, and to its silence, the sweetness of moving water crawling over rocks on its journey, perhaps to the sea, the warmth of sunlight upon one's back, and to the stars twinkling at night. There is a magick to behold in nature, and it cannot be told purely in words and sentences for one has to feel in dancing in their veins as they stumble across paradise. It does not call us to come hither, but awaits for us to step within and gaze upon its treasures as it speaks a language forgot. These images and words are like music to my ears and I thought what a magickal life does Tilly lead in a forest where the fae and elves frolick. The energy will help her to recover and provide the will to keep going. Lilly, gives her a woof, for she is a senior dog and loves her walks and playtime too. So many thanks once again for sharing your magickal life and for me on the other side of the world, I tap into memories where once I trod, and breathed in the old air. Many blessing on your day, and I hope you too are becoming stronger with each day.

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