Hard rain today. the water was sluicing down the driveway and leaving waves of mud along the crushed rocks. The culverts under the roads were shooting brown water like hoses onto the tide flats below. and any overturned buckets played like kettle drums in the din. It was a good day for cuddling up, reading books and thinking deep thoughts.
Then the rain stopped and the sky was a uniform grey, with some sun shining through. I had written a long essay over the last two weeks about the history of consciousness. I had pulled quotes from Gregory Bateson and Martin Heidegger. I had wanted to talk about a sensation I had about being surrounded by mindful beings, and I worked pretty hard on it. but no matter how hard I beat that horse it just would not get up and run.
I think I violated one of my first rules of writing: never try to write smarter than you are.
So, I erased what I wrote and was feeling kind of crappy about not having done a blog post in a while. Then three things happened, the fish meetings in Sitka, Jan went looking for whales, and I sat on our porch staring out at the water.
First the fish meetings: the parking lots are full, men in suits with brief cases, the coffee shops are full of people talking about allocations, men and women, from organizations made of long lists of letters, all bickering about take limits, and other laws that are themselves lists of letters, but what it comes down to is people dividing up a pie.
Jan comes back from looking at the whales. "How was it?" I ask her, "Terrific," she says, "Lots and lots of whales. More than I saw this time last year. The herring are here. They are deep and the Humpback are hitting them hard. Chowing down." She tries to take a step forward then pauses for a while thinking... Jan has a neurological disease that does not effect her thinking but does effect the way her brain tells her muscles to work. The brain is mysterious. "Those guys at the meeting are going to have to factor in that whales eat herring. They eat a lot of herring. They are coming in here earlier and earlier. This is new. It's going to be tricky." Then something changes in her tricky brain and she walks on.
Then I was sitting on my porch and a eagle landed in a spruce tree. This tree is a usual spot for eagles to land in the spring and I haven't seen a big bird there all winter. I think the eagle had a herring in it's talons because a big raven came and started talking to it, in an pestering aggressive tone. The eagle ignored the raven, looked right over the top of it's head. I swear this is true. This is not some literary fable I'm making up. Two branches down on the other side of the trunk another smaller raven was kind of chortling and chuckling away. The big raven continued to harass the eagle but the eagle did not move. He simply stood on the branch. Now I couldn't see a herring, or if he had one or not. The branch of the tree blocked my view. But soon enough the huge raven took off and so did the smaller laughing one. The eagle sat there on what is usually a spring perch.
The only thing I'm going to save from my old essay are the definitions from the dictionary. I think they might be useful. They are helpful when you are trying to become smarter.
Soon enough spring will be here and the big boats will be in Sitka Sound, and more whales, King Salmon will be shoaling closer into the shore. The eagles will be thick in the trees. The ravens will be talking to everyone and will be trying to rob the backs of pickup trucks in the grocery stores. They all know what's coming, they all know the near future because they read the subtle signs and interpret them. They are also in negotiations with each other I suppose. But then again....I need to get smarter before I write about that.
Rain, to sleet, to sun
this late winter is nothing
I have ever seen.
mind |mīnd|noun1 the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought: as the thoughts ran through his mind, he came to a conclusion | people have the price they are prepared to pay settled in their minds.• a person's mental processes contrasted with physical action: I wrote a letter in my mind.2 a person's intellect: his keen mind.• a person's memory: the company's name slipsmy mind.• a person identified with their intellectual faculties: he was one of the greatest minds of his time.3 a person's attention: I expect my employees to keep their minds on the job.• the will or determination to achieve something: anyone can lose weight if they set their mind to it.
consciousness |ˈkänCHəsnəs|noun the state of being awake and aware of one's surroundings: she failed to regain consciousness and died two days later.• the awareness or perception of something by a person: her acute consciousness of Mike's presence.• the fact of awareness by the mind of itself and the world: consciousness emerges from the operations of the brain.
awareness |əˈwe(ə)rnis|nounknowledge or perception of a situation or fact: we need to raise public awareness of the issue. there is a lack of awareness of the risks.• concern about and well-informed interest in a particular situation or development: a growing environmental awareness. his political awareness developed.