I can’t believe the size of the hole Nora has dug in the newly mowed lawn. She is banished to the inside while I survey the scene.
She likes to dig, I know this. But it is hard to fathom why she chooses the spots she does. I get it when it is at the edge of the foundation or back of the garden where the voles like to scurry. But out in the middle of the lawn in a seemingly random place? What keeps coming to me is that these holes might be her boredom holes. Whatever pent up energy of discontent needs to be expended follows the impulse to ‘find’ something, and once she starts, she can’t stop. I usually yell a bit when I find them, then grab a rake or shovel and try to fill it back in right away with the dirt she has scattered all over. You can never completely fill a hole back up this way. I always have to add something new to the mix to bring the surface back up to some semblance of level. Without a ready source of new soil nearby that won’t require more digging, I’ve filled these holes with everything from wood ash to crushed leaves. I had just finished adding some sod taken from my new raised beds on top of the holes she made last fall, repaired the few at the garden edges and thought she might be done for a while. But this hole is her most prolific yet. As if there is truly something to get to on the other side. Maybe because I haven’t rushed to fill it in like the others and just let it be? I realize we haven’t been to the woods in a few days to let whatever injury to her right hind leg have a chance to heal a bit, so I think, let her have this hole…
I can’t wait any longer. I start putting on my hiking books and she goes crazy. I can barely get the front door open for her burst to get out to the path leading to our entry into the woods. There’s no visible change in the breakneck speed with which she races away when I let her off the leash and I have to let go of any worry that her leg is not fully healed. I finally make it through the meadow, enter the woods and stop cold. It IS completely new. In the space of just a few days the deciduous trees have all fully leafed out and I hardly recognize where I am.
Following the path by memory with just the barest hint of the faint crush underneath is the only means for actually seeing where I am going because the way is now one version of green upon another. Mesmerized, I couldn’t stop if I wanted to, the impulse to keep moving through this green is powerful. I think, not so different from Nora’s hole then, this compulsion to tunnel through to what is beyond or underneath or at the end.
Arriving at the brook, I find my way to my new favorite boulder and sit in the middle of stone and rushing water. Up to now, I have always considered the ‘other side’ a place that is over there, content to have my meditation right here and then turn back to home. But today, my eye falls significantly on the next stone that leads to a clear crossing and before I can blink I am on the other side. Nora, joyously, follows.
We are now in ‘wildlife management’ preserve land. There are no discernible trails and I just walk straight up the hill, as if there is something to get to. The sound of crunching through dried branches on the ground loudly announces our presence in this distinctively different landscape of bigger trees and bigger spaces between trees, from my side of the brook.
Eventually I come to a series of stone walls, something I am getting used to encountering deep in the wilderness of this land surrounding my new home. There is a maze of sugaring tubes running between trees on one side, and the hint of light and something different further up above.
Kind of like digging out of a hole I suppose, the contrast between forest density and open clearing is dramatic as I find myself standing at the edge of a barbed wire fence looking at the most amazing tree standing out there all by itself.
This is the stopping point. We turn around and head back. It’s a little surreal crossing back over the brook now. Now that we’ve dug this deep, I wonder if we will continue be satisfied with what is on our side of the book…
The answer is yes, of course. With new eyes, I take in the world of green that has sprung up so significantly. Especially the ferns! Just a week ago they were tightly coiled, too small to be the fiddleheads I was hoping to find for food. Now they band together in their new growth to form significant edges.
Up close, each group of ferns is like a tightly knit family
formed around a center.
Or a hole? Could be either I suppose…
Now we reach the edge of home, moving out of the density of relentless green back in to the world of form. Resonance with that lone tree on the other side comes to mind. That tree was there, but could easily be here sharing space with the beauties beyond.
Nora’s hole doesn’t seem like such a mystery anymore. If I just let her keep digging, I think she too might eventually find her experience on the other side, and bring it back with her to fill the space of her discontent…