An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of January 12, 2014
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

SUNNY SPOT BESIDE THE RIVER

looking up through grass at the sky

Last Sunday morning the big "polar vortex" pushing into eastern North America brought us a stiff wind from the north and a temperature hovering just above the freezing point. However, the cloud cover was so thin that you could feel the sun on your skin. Along the Dry Frio's banks a sunny spot out of the wind turned up at the grass-overgrown base of a cliff, right beside where water trickled over a gravel bar so I sat there awhile basking in the watery sunlight. The spot turned out to be so pleasant that I lay back in the grass as the wind whooshed through the junipers atop the cliff, gazing up through grass blades arcing over me. Above, you can see what I saw at that moment.

When you break from a plan or routine and unexpectedly settle into such a private, out-of-the-way, agreeable spot and just focus on what's happening right there, at that very moment, becoming conscious of such matters as the reddish blackness behind your eyelids, the rustling of grass blades and the trickling of water, the odor of the cold earth you're lying on, the sweet, oily odor your own skin issues as it warms in the sunlight, it's a form of meditation. From being a spot moving across the landscape, you become an awareness within that spot. You go inward, and the sky, the grass, the wind and the trickling help you do it. It's always the case that Nature invites awareness and reflection.

The more deeply you go inside, whether in formal meditation or behind your eyelids in a sunny little cove, the more clearly you perceive a certain humming-like, glowing-like, peace-radiating, infinitely stable, conceptually spherical presence hovering inside yourself. If you've ever glimpsed it, you'll not have forgotten it, and you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

Near this presence, you sense its independence from all outside influences. It is unaffected by your genetically based predispositions, and independent of your psychological and emotional states. To me, its steady humming/glowing/somehow-singing nature is so clearly pure and simple that I think it must be exactly the same invisible but perceptible spark humming/glowing/somehow singing in everyone else, as well as in all living things, and maybe other things as well. In this little cove beside the trickling stream with roaring cold wind above me, my tiny, internal, glowing, universally shared humming tells me that I am rooted in something other than the wind.

Back to being a spot moving along the Dry Frio's banks, with tall grass and junipers gesticulating in the wind, temperature dropping and brown sycamore leaves skating across the water into brown piles against the opposite bank, it's like walking through a song, while that same music hums within me.

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