The acorns started falling
early this year. The first ones dropped nearly a month ago. Now they fall in
quick bursts and startle my dog, who looks up at every click of acorn to stone,
to grass, to dirt.
Or on a careful grave, since
we often stop a while in the morning amongst the comfortable graves of friends
in the little graveyard to the north.
Champ is confused and alert
as the acorn volleys hit. But he soon figures out that his person doesn’t need
defending and the squirrels are too far up to catch. So he sprawls in the
grass, ecstatic and silly, wriggling to scratch his back, crying out in yelps
and moans to the ground and the sky and the trees and the birds. It’s a good
Sometimes I scoop up a few
acorns and put them in my pockets, then into pots of dirt. I’m always hoping
for trees, for sprouts, for continued and renewing life.
And life does thrust through.
My times in the graveyard
with Champ are part of what keeps me centered and in the moment. At least for a
Though, well, I’d be lying if
I told you my thoughts didn’t sometimes stray to the past. I’ve walked there
and sat there under the oaks and cedars for 40 years. There are memories, funny
ones and sad ones. The stones leaning or standing or laying flat hold names of
people I knew well, and of course of many who lived and loved and died long
ago. They all remind me of a crowd of my beloved dead whose bodies are now
dust, part of the sea, part of a hillside or mountain, or dissolving into earth
in some far away corner.
But here my thoughts don’t
spin forward. That’s a good thing in these days of obsessive what if, what will
happen, what should I do.
It’s a sort of daily vacation
amongst the dead.
Oh, soon enough I sap back
into the present-dashing-to-future. To lists and practicalities. To anxieties,
phone calls, the lure of the cyber world, a glut of information, stories,
As Champ and I walk south
again we see other early morning walkers on the highway or hills. Some have
carts, some carry bundles. There are heavy backpacks, bicycles, dogs. Some walk
on hurting bare feet. Some are young and lovely and laughing.
The morning fog touches us
all with a calm equality. I was just reading a UN report on migrants. In our
world there are now over a billion people on the move, leaving the places they
lived, hoping for a better future. A quarter of those cross national
boundaries, but the rest shift within their countries, carrying what they can. Vulnerable people. Hopeful people. Children,
women, men. Just people. As I’ve sat in the graveyard, across the country UN
experts have been debating human rights of migrant peoples.
In my town the migrants have
been yelled out, beaten, threatened.
Acorns in hand I return with
Champ to the daily, busy world. My migrant friends from Spain or the South
Bronx or Portland or North Carolina may stop by for conversation, water, mail.
Maybe an apple or two, a smile, a greeting from my dog.
Acorns take a long time to
mature to big trees, but if you don’t plant them you won’t have those trees at
Compassion and kindness and
understanding of the stranger, the migrant, the neighbor, the annoying person
who pushes every button you have—that might take a long time as well. But if
you don’t start (I remind myself) how will it happen?
Only bit by bit, in the
present, simply. And here, while the sweet air is on us and the acorns are falling
and we are so privileged to wake and walk. Let’s be here together. Let’s just