On a dark day in Devon
Ursula Le Guin on the truth of fantasy

Breaking open

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From Wild Comfort by Kathleen Dean Moore:

" 'There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature,' Rachel Carson wrote. 'The assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.'

"I have never felt this so strongly as I do now, waiting for the sun to warm my back. The bottom may drop out of my life, what I trusted may fall away completely, leaving me astonished and shaken. But still, sticky leaves emerge from bud scales that curl off the tree as the sun crosses the sky. Darkness pools and drains away, and the curve of the new moon points to the place where the sun will rise again. There is wild comfort in the cycles and the intersecting circles, the rotations and revolutions, the growing and ebbing of this beautiful and strangely trustworthy world.

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 "I settle back on the rock and drag my sleeping bag over my knees. Diffuse light silvers the water; I can just make out a dragonfly nymph that crawls toward the surface with no expectation of flight beyond maybe a tightness in the carapace across its back. No matter how hard it tries or doesn't, there will come a time when the dragonfly pumps the crinkles out of its wings, and there they will be, luminous as mica, threaded with lapis and gold.

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 "No measure of human grief can stop Earth in its tracks. Earth rolls into sunlight and rolls away again, continents glowing green and gold under the clouds. Trust this, and there will come a time when dogged, desperate trust in the world will break open into wonder. Wonder leads to gratitude. Gratitude into peace." 

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Wild Comfort by Kathleen Dean Moore

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Where, or how, do you find wild comfort?


 The passage above is from Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature, essays by Kathleen Dean Moore (Trumpeter Books, 2010); all rights reserved by the author. The text is the picture captions is adapted from a  post after winter storms in 2012.


I must read that book! I find wild comfort by simply walking in nature, or if I'm in a more urban place, seeing birds go about their lives. By learning to identify the trees, plants and animals native to this place so I can hold more wonder. By creating wildlife habitat in my yard so it is full of life that I am helping to support. We feed one another, and I take comfort in nurturing their well-being.

Love Tilly's leaping over the stream! No fear! Moving where she wants to go! The dragonfly that has urges that become wings. I dreamed of a device that responded to my mind and allowed me to fly...which I'm sure will be invented one of these days.

i find comfort in beauty---natural or human created--and in tenderness. most of all, i find it in the whole sweep of nature, that encompasses things as large as mountains, as the night sky full of stars, as oceans; and as small as atoms, as dewdrops, as the gleam of a dragonfly's wing. the sun will keep on rising and setting, no matter what jot or grief i may feel, and i find that oddly comforting. i am held in an immense web of life, and somehow that amplifies joy and mitigates sorrow.

I highly recommend it. I read it recently after seeing it in Myth and Moor, and found it transporting. My wife and I bought a retirement home on the north Oregon coast last year, and spending time there makes me understand much of where Wild Comfort gets its inspiration. The O'Hara quote reminds me of one of my favorites, apparently misattributed to Emerson, and actually composed by Bessie A. Stanley of Lincoln, Kansas in 1905: To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

Wild comfort is in the tired looking daisy pushing between the pavement slabs or the dusty sparrow pecking at motes. It is in the tree, where ever it may have rooted, giving green, shade and form. I find it in the small green spaces that hide behind fences in the middle of a city.
Wild comfort is in the ground beneath my feet, the grasses and stones, moss and leaves. It is in the copse and wood, forest and stream.

These days I see little daylight and only small patches of green, leaving home at 7.00; working in a classroom under unnatural light. The wild comfort has to come from the walk across to main school and hearing the rook, snatching a glimpse of a blue tit or seeing the hint of spring on the school field. These are hard days.

How wonderful, and yes I have found that to be so very true. After my sister died, I turned to nature. When my beloved godchild died unexpectedly a few months later, on Christmas Day, I went to ground, literally, and breathed the air, and let the wind blow through me.

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