In the Northern Hemisphere we are rushing towards the shortest night of the year, the Summer Solstice. I live on a mountain in the north and the sun now sets behind the mountain and rises only a few steps to the East after the brief night.
At midnight, the Big Dipper's cup sweeps the crown of the black forest and the moonless night is lit up by millions of fireflies that pulse with love's lusts as they flit about the forest and flash around the hay fields below. This vast insectian display of ardour and sexual attraction mirrors the vault of heaven where the stars glitter. Standing in the middle of the meadow, I feel as if I were flying in the dark night sky, Heaven and Earth, united.
The chorus of eight legged troubadors playing ballads of merry songs, calling to their mates, a continuous chorus of earthly delights, promises of legacy and eternal rule of the plant world! Down in the depths of the valley sing the frogs, a pulsating basso. In the darkness, silent bats and night birds swoop and curve as they slice through the love-struck insects. If I turn on a flashlight, I can see them as they glide past the beam.
Oh night of love, the Venus of Life! Everything that fled the winter's iron grip or who turned inwards or dropped its leaves, naked to the cold, all who hid in burrows or braved the blasts of storms, all are happy tonight for the afternoon's storms that traipsied through the valleys are gone and the stars now rule the cloudless night! Rain and warmth means an abundance of life. This is the week I hay the pastures and I saw a new-born fawn curled in a tight ball hidden by a veil of tall grasses. A sand-colored baby snake nearly gets caught in the blades of the grass cutting but I pick it up and drop it onto the rock walls which I and many previous farmers had wrestled from the earth and piled along the edges of the fields.
The wild strawberries are bright red gems hidden by the hay but as the tractor passes, they appear magically. I stop occassionally and pluck them. They are as small as the tips of my fingers but far sweeter than the biggest strawberry sold in stores, bloated beings created by abusing nature by pumping in chemicals and oil-based fertilizers. These wild strawberries can't fill the stomach but they fill the soul. Sucking on just one tiny berry brings delight to the senses!
The wild rose bushes are in full flower and the night carries their scent to guide me to where they bloom. White or pink, they have only five pedals and each flower is less than an inch across but unlike the hot house roses bred by humans, they are a potent perfume and it isn't their pretty appearance but rather this invisible but far more sexually attractive attribute that is most noticeable at night! Unlike the false beauty of modern roses nearly all of whom have as much perfume as a frog, these tiny flowers may look modest but are the Queens of the Night!
They are the hedgerows that seperate the pastures and fields. I didn't plant them, Mother Nature scatters their seeds through her sweet-singing army of song birds. In the news is the story this week that we are losing our emissaries of Venus, these feathered beauties, the song birds of forest and field! This is because we are changing their world, instead of living within Nature's embrace, we are raping her!
For these birds, the fireflies, the butterflies, the frogs, the fawns, they all need a variety of places, a tapestry of creation and one of the wonders of humanity was our ability to create 'farming' out of all this. So the opening of fields with hedgerows of wild roses and evergreens, the accidental junction of so many things whereby we sculpt Nature with our scythes as we prepare fields, harvest them and hay them, all this meshes with all other living things to create a culture, one filled with miracles like the stars flickering in the fields and fens at night for a week in the year, the miracle of the chorus of song birds greeting the first rays of dawn, the leaping deer or the running fox: all these things are moving alongside the sheep I used to herd or the oxen I used to work, the horses as they graze, this life is what Life is all about: variety and change.
When I share my world with the insects, mammals, birds, wild plants and reptiles, this makes my own life richer! Their bounty is given to me and I do things that make their lives richer or better, all of us have room on this mountain, the corner of creation...I am not the mistress of all this but a visitor who has to keep making the bed, cooking the meals and in general, insuring that all of us can live here in harmony and this means understanding everyone and giving them time to be.
So I stay the haying until the grass is going to seed and is so tall it reaches my waist. And mixed in with these grasses are many flowers: blue, yellow, red and white! And my bees as well as a host of insects visit these beautiful sex organs of what people foolishly call 'weeds' and as I hay, butterflies and grasshoppers rise from the carpet of tall flowers that are intermixed with the hay. And birds follow my tractor, swooping down upon them and the haying scatters seeds and pollen all over the place and this resets the meadows so they can continue to grow and flourish each year.
Much of America is becoming a biological desert. The tiny, often colorful and certainly talented song birds are fewer in number for the long journey from the warm south to their nesting grounds here on this mountain are hazardous for there are fewer and fewer places they can rest and eat. Suburban lawns are dead zones despite the green. There are no carpets of wild flowers for the bees and birds! People wonder why bees are dying!
They need flowers! Lots of flowers! Even as I hay fields, I leave large swaths of flowers for my bees, these are cut only in the fall when their season is past! I use no chemicals so insects take their share but in return, I have a huge bird population! From hummingbirds to chickadees, hawks to owls, swallows and crows, the variety I see each day is astonishing. And they nest and flock around my house and become accustomed to my voice and appearance.
It is amusing when they return. The older birds who remember this place and use the stars and sun to track their migrations so they can return to a happy home, will literally fly up to me and say 'hello'. I recognize them from oddities in their markings or songs. Some of the older birds are so accustomed to me, they think nothing of being inches away from where I sit when I am outside!
And this is what we are losing. People wanting identical lawns are killing nature. When I lived in suburbia, I tore up my front lawn and planted flowers. I grew old-fashioned roses which have a sweet scent. I planted fruit trees that birds love. In return, my yard was filled with birds! The tragedy of humanity is how our own greed is causing us to throw out the true treasure of this Earth: the bounty of Nature!
With the advent of genetic engineering, the destruction of Nature is now threatening the entire web of life. I suspect, since my bees are doing well, it is industrial farming that is killing off the bees. My hive, in attention to the lure of Mother Nature, as all living things this week, sensing the high glory of the year, the longest day, the new Queen was hatched and half of the hive gathered around Her Majesty and in a large mob, they all flew off to seek a new home. This is how I got my vigorous, healthy hive!
They arrived in this day, the longest in summer, and demanded I set up a hive box for them. My husband obeyed this request and now we have them living with us and sharing the sweet honey they make from the wild flowers and the roses blooming in the hedge rows.
I love Nature, I love the cycle of Life and this is so precious, it is greater than any work of art, more valuable that all the gold in bank vaults, it is why I exist and it makes my life possible. The love Nature spreads is what made my life sweeter with kisses and love from the man who shares all this, and like all the living things having sex and spreading armour this night, I was blessed with children who are now grown and living just as I have; this is the cycle of love and life!
I ardently wish to protect all this and this means ending the possession of nuclear missiles and other death machines. This means curbing our appetites and not devouring all this, it means understanding Nature and working with her. Much of my labor is to NOT ruin this web of life but to mesh with it and take what I can from it, what I am allowed.
It is really all rather easy, actually! The hens lay their eggs eagerly and let us take them and eat them and in return, we protect them and care for them summer and winter. The horse bears me on his back or pulls for me because in return, I feed and protect him. The sheep gave me wool and the oxen pulled hard no matter how big the tree.
So tonight, I want to thank all these living things for making my life worth living. A gracious bow towards the true Empress of All Things, thank you, Mother Nature. May you forgive us all.