Friday night I walk.
I walk for many hours – as I approach home the sky is the most brilliant red.
Crimson all round. The mountains reflected on the water of the dam are purple.
Two fish eagles fly above me – circling, calling, and soaring. The dams are empty and awaiting rain.
Listening, hearing, there are an awful lot of dogs barking, from all over the village.
The waning moon rises. The following morning, I am again woken early by the dogs,
I get up to let them out, the sky is again this crimson, this brilliant magenta, flashing all around, and now in the morning the mountains are black.
Red sky at night
Red sky at morn
Shepherds warn and with that arising in mind, I decided to be alert to weather and patterns as a shepherd would need to be. Wanted to understand this red sky thing.
Decided on the spur of the moment to take the teens and pre teens up the mountains.
It is fun for some, hard work for others, extremely challenging for one or two. Iona went up ahead of me and twice got into trouble but thankfully Cian had chosen to shadow her and guided her.
This inspiration of kids moved so effortlessly up these boulders and rocks, shining with aliveness at being in the wild again. Sasha asked me what I thought about the sun that day and I said it was strange because I had been thinking how very weak the sun was on that Saturday. There were thin clouds that it would normally penetrate by 10 in the morning, but the whole day it was obscured almost like the sun in Mumbai is always covered by the smog. I have never seen the sun so weak. It was almost as if the atmosphere had changed and become thicker somehow. She said the same thing. And yet I read that people in the North are saying how fierce the sun is.
At the top we sat a while, some exploring further. The strangest thing happened. The air became extremely warm and the leaves off some of the trees blew off with some force. Something shifted that was totally felt by us. Sitting up there I felt completely at the mercy of that wind and what it could bring as effortlessly as it has been doing in the past few weeks.
I felt this sudden urge to get down off the mountain. No one argued, and we descended. When we had past the tricky part we settled again and no storm came.
Yesterday I went back to the mountain, but alone this time. The sun was still fuzzy and weak.
I found a very old oak tree, extremely large, stretching to eternity both upwards and outwards. Three enormous branches had stretched themselves out just a few inches above the ground. They each twisted and turned as if they were vacillating about which way they wanted to point. To the cliff face, or to the softer mountain, To the valley or to the forest. Enormous branches long dead, just spiraling down and hanging. I get an urge to swing it, to give it movement – it swings widely.
The urge then arises to sit on the one mother branch. Sitting with my knees falling outwards, almost like a squat. Feet bare in the rich soil. Fallen, monocoloured leaves in varying stages of decomposition. The most recently fallen ones, the most newly dead are in actuality the most dead. The liveliness of decay has not yet begun. It is only when they are soft and pliable that they are consumed with life force again.
Many dead branches lean against the other branches so in this squatting, it sets the branch running adjacent to the one I was seated on, which stretched forward and banged on a very young oak, creating a sound, a drum beat. The sister branch would move simultaneously, and I could never see the link other than the trunk which was several meters away. Both these branches created sound, two drumbeats, and the the swishing of a branch against the leaves, and the few bird calls coming in and fading out. Nothing else. No other sound. No other motion. Just me and this tree and the fuzzy sun.
And then it occurred to me that this would be the perfect time to do the sun salutation. And once that faded then chanting began. None of this planned or even contemplated. Constantly surprised by what unfolded.
pārasamgate bodhi svāhā
gone utterly beyond, Enlightenment hail!"……….
This tree as a fully awakened, realized being. The most powerful presence I had ever been in and along with that playful and joyous beyond measure. Sometimes chuckling for minutes and then laughing out loud. Then the thought about leaving would arise some other movement would happen. That part of the forest was alive with movement and music. I would find myself climbing up the branches, hanging from a branch, lying on a branch, lying on the thick leaves. It seemed like my whole life had brought me to that moment where I would spend several hours in the full presence of the tree. This is what it was actually for. I could never have imagined such playfulness. Such intrinsic joy. This body stretched and fell and moved and breathed and this rich untouched tree essence weaves its magic.
And from this space, and this pure joy, it was my wish that all beings could feel this lightness. that humanity can transcend the bullshit it has created as itself and return to the primal joy. The joy which is dependent upon not-hing.
In the last week the talking about the coming changes, to the actuality of the changes has happened. To me every day I feel a palpable shift. What was solid in the past is not so today, what was known yesterday is questioned today. The light is still different.
The crimson sky, the ancient tree, such wisdom and strength revealing itself shows to me the perfection of it all – even the perfection of the imperfect bits.
And that night the rains found their way to the landscape. Gentle rains that lasted longer than five minutes, yet soft enough to leave the land undisturbed, unravaged.