An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of March 23, 2009
issued from the woods just west of Natchez, Mississippi, USA

INTO A BUBBLE OF CALMNESS

Into the bubble of calmness around my morning campfire a two-inch long, reddish and pale orange, thumb-shaped blossom fell onto the leaf litter beneath the big Black Oak beside the trailer. It was so quiet that the flower's soft thud could be heard. Maggie the Dog, lying a couple of yards away, heard it hit and went over sniffing where the sound had come from. All she could find out of the ordinary was the blossom, so she sniffed it circumspectly, but didn't bother to pick it up. She looked at me and I was noncommittal, so she just walked away, her face suggesting that it'd been worth her effort if only because at least she'd discovered an interesting new odor.

After breakfast I smelled for myself. The odor reminded me of Worcestershire sauce, but I know that vegetarian noses smell things differently from noses of flesh eaters. Then I took the picture of the flower shown below:

flower of Crossvine, BIGNONIA CAPREOLATA

The flower had fallen from a native woody vine that climbs high into trees bearing clusters of 2-5 blossoms in arrangements very pretty to look at. The vine is called Crossvine, BIGNONIA CAPREOLATA, and it's a member of the Bignonia Family, which explains why the flower's general form is like those of Trumpet Creepers and Catalpa trees, members of the same family.

The whole blossom-falling experience struck a certain chord in me, so I wrote a haiku:

A lone flower falls
into our pool of quietness.
I don't find the source.

Syllables of 5:7:5 capture the moment, let what's unsaid speak most powerfully... Why were we so quiet? Did I not find the source vine because it bore its flowers so high up, or because I didn't look? In either case, why or why not? Are we commenting on a subtle gesture by Nature, or on my own state of mind? In either case, so what?

All week, loggers have ravaged the already overcut woods next to us: Noise of chainsaws and toppling trees from dawn to dusk. All week there's been obsessive news reporting on the economy, but not a word about living things' need for clean air and water, healthy soil, and living space. Though the intricacies of money-exchange have been explored ad nauseam, no one talked about Nature's myriad planetary life-sustaining but collapsing networks and cycles. Noise and chatter, noise and chatter, and all saying the wrong things...

A lone flower falls
into our pool of quietness.
I don't find the source.

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