Descending the slope last Tuesday, returning through the cornfield belt, I slipped. In the forest the soil had ben soft and loose, cradling one's feet, but years of corn growing here had converted the soil to hard, slick mud. My right elbow hit a jagged limestone rock, one of many emerging from the land as soil erodes from around them on the steep slope. The part of my elbow that hit the rock was what my father used to call the funny bone, because when you hit it it's like getting an electrical shock.
That day my elbow hurt so badly that for a couple of minutes I just lay on the steep path with my teeth gritted and eyes clinched shut, unable to move my fingers, waiting for the pain to ease, feeling blood dripping from my elbow. My mind was in no better shape, in such a dark mood that the idea occurred to me that maybe my fall was somehow appropriate after seeing such destruction of the forest, that when I did open my eyes all I'd see would be forlorn-looking corn and hacked-up forest, so why not just keep the eyes closed, maybe forever?
But, life is fixed so that eventually you have to open your eyes. I was lying on my side among weeds and the vision that came into focus before me wasn't at all what I'd expected. Long I stared, warm sunlight feeling good and the herbage I'd crushed when I fell issuing a fragrance sweet and minty. A soft breeze rustled peacefully among the cornblades. Without moving my eyes I reached into my pocket, retrieved the camera, and photographed the picture at the top of this page.
How pretty were those friendly statements of purple, blue, yellow and white against the soft, generous background of green.
Long I stared, until way after my elbow had stopped hurting and the blood had hardened to a blackish crust.
A while back I mentioned here that to protect my own sanity I identify with weeds, not more stable communities such as old-growth forests, which I suspect to be doomed by climate change's storms, droughts, floods, fires, pestilences and such, if somehow they escape the workings of human commerce. Some readers said that this was a sad example of my "giving up."
Lying on my side among the weeds, looking at a purple Cuphea blossom nodding under the influence of a tiny black bee, I thought about that statement. A reserve was in the process of being destroyed, putting me into a black mood. But now weeds, like so many times before, were good-naturedly charming me back to being myself.
I know that, with my personality structure, when for too long I see so many beautiful, noble things replaced by gross vulgarity, I can get cynical, depressed, so simply crazy that I'm no longer any good to anyone.
However, identifying with weeds, even in this eroding cornfield at the scene of an ecological disaster, suddenly I find myself smiling at an agreeable little band of brothers and sisters encouraging me on, telling me to keep blossoming and offering nectar and perfume to the wind and all visitors who come with sun-glistening wings or songs in their hearts.
How pretty were the weeds that day.