An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of August 24, 2013
Issued from the Frio Canyon Nature Education Center in the valley of the
Dry Frio River in northern Uvalde County, southwestern Texas,
on the southern border of the Edwards Plateau, USA

CICADAS, DRY WIND
& SYCAMORE LEAVES

Sycamore leaves

One hot afternoon this week I biked into the valley to pick lima beans in the garden next to the red cabin. Someone was at the cabin, though, and I didn't want to fool with them, so I went walking along the Dry Frio instead. A gravel bar shaded by a big sycamore beckoned me, so I lay on the gravel to take a nap, and maybe I did, or almost did. Whatever the case, in an in-between, awake-or-asleep state I began noticing this: Dry wind feeling good on my skin, and rustling prettily in the leaves above me.

It was more than pretty and good feeling. Somehow the wind in leaves sounded so restful and its cooling ripples on my hot skin felt so friendly that a wave of nostalgia, or something like nostalgia, washed over me, confounding the moment with untold others that mostly took place many years ago. You know how it is when a certain odor, sound or feeling, or combination of sensations suddenly focuses you in a tender way, and takes you back. A hint of the feeling is conveyed by the picture I took above me shown at the top of this page.

And then the cicadas started up, not the chainsaw-sounding ones like back in Kentucky and Mississippi, for cicadas here have a mellower call, but, still, their droning added more feeling, and more poignancy.

In that half-asleep state, it seemed that the three things -- hot, dry wind, rustling sounds in sycamore leaves, and cicadas calling -- were all present in the right proportion, and perfectly complementary with one another. In fact, as I lay there, in my mind the three things arranged themselves geometrically, and I began thinking of myself as suspended within the three equal corners of a crystalline pyramid.

In this transcendent state -- or maybe just as my mind wandered -- it occurred to me that the hot, dry wind, rustling sounds in sycamore leaves and cicadas calling were all just one thing that had found three ways of expressing itself. And, at the same time, it was as if the three things were movie-projectors issuing beams of light that crisscrossed in space exactly where I was, making me. And a third thought was this: That, like "Father, Son and Holy Ghost," the Wind, Leaves and Cicadas were the Physical World, Thought and Spiritual Inspiration that with their mingling ignited ME into existence.

By that time ants were crawling all over me tickling and biting, and I thought about myself being a stiff-jointed old man in mid-afternoon lying on a gravel bar daydreaming about levitating inside a crystalline pyramid, and I got tickled and sort of snorted instead of laughing, and that snort and the scratching of ant bites brought me down, brought me back, and I just got up, brushed sand and ants from my sweaty arms and legs, and biked home and wrote this before I forgot it.

For, these days I'm forgetting lots of things, forgetting when I'm not remembering.