An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of March 21, 2010
Issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort adjoining
Chichén Itzá Ruin in Yucatán, MÉXICO

SILK COTTONTREE IN A SECRET PLACE

This week Leona in the Missouri Ozarks sent a poem she'd just written. After mentioning the homey, next-to-the-fireplace feeling of when "a pan of water on the stove starts singing, cheering this cold night with it's warbles... " she spoke of melting ice, the odor of mud, and such, the harbingers of a nascent spring. Karen in Mississippi told me about her first Bluebird of the year, and how the unexpected visit was so wonderful and humbling to her. "Isn't that something?" she asked rhetorically, and I agreed that it was. Spring is coming up there.

I don't fret much about missing spring in North America. Our dry season has its feeling, too, and it's a feeling worth knowing, worth settling into, and being poetic and philosophical about.

For example, hiking the property boundaries the other day, deep in the forest, it felt like being in a hot, droughty, August woods up North -- leaves on the forest floor crunching beneath feet, birds stunned into quietness by the heat, the dusty odor, the sweat and drowse that walking quietly in dry heat visits upon you. If you've experienced something similar, maybe you understand how such hiking can be a meditation upon the land, each step like repeating a mantra that bestows peace and contentment.

My favorite times during these mid-dry-season days are the late afternoons when the temperature stands in the 90s, heavy sunlight stings the skin, and breezes stir up dust that swirls around the church's gray, stonewall corners. I like the hardness of it all, the lack of ambiguity about it, the pure essence of a season being itself. Smiles can be deceptive or misunderstood but dust and heat can't, have no need to be so, are honest and uncomplicated.

But, it's more than that. For, we've seen that on this stage of inscrutable smiles and pitiless dust and heat there's also a golden-flowered Silk Cottontree in a secret place in the woods quietly doing its beautiful thing -- blossoming on a timetable assuring that when rains return in May, Silk Cottontree seeds will be present and ready to germinate.

I don't think I could stand a world where the choice was either a society with many insincere smiles or else a world of raw dust and heat, or merely a combination of the two. But, just knowing that the golden-flowered Silk Cottontree remains in its secret place somehow adds a whole new dimension to things. It sets up a meditation on life during which each moment can pass like the words of a mantra, bestowing peace and contentment. Facebook Icon.