This nosegay of wildflowers was collected on an evening walk my husband and I took through the local botanical preserve, El Charco del Ingenio. We have had so much rain this year in central Mexico that the flowers and grasses of the high desert are blooming riotously… furiously… abundantly. As we walk along the trails, the scents change constantly from sages and lavenders to others I cannot put a name to but which are decidedly of this area of the world.
I love living here, amongst a wild and natural beauty. Yet there is tragedy here, too. A virus that affects dogs is the suspected culprit in the deaths of much of the wildlife over the summer. Foxes, raccoons, ring-tailed cats and perhaps even the bobcats have disappeared. Only one lone fox has showed up on the wildlife camera since early June. It used to be that every time we changed the camera’s memory card, we would catch glimpses into the lives of these animals. Raccoons coming in small groups to the shore of the reservoir to wash and fish. The lone bobcat coming into view, identifiable by the tufts of fur on its ears. All the foxes who we came to differentiate by the size and shape of their tails and the markings on their faces.
Stepping into Nature has long been a source of inspiration, as well as balm, yet it is getting easier and easier to live my life farther and farther away from the ‘source’. As I get older, however, I find myself wanting more and more to return to a time where shoes were optional and each day ended with the sweet feel of an exhaustion earned from the honest labor of playing long and hard.
Stepping into Nature invites us to develop a relationship with ‘place’. Constancy, and the arc of many seasons, allows us to notice changes in natural sites much as we would in our family and friends. In developing our witness to Nature, we run the risk of caring more deeply about protecting the wild places that feed our soul. This recent leap of a lethal virus from domesticated dogs to wild animals here in central Mexico has left many of us feeling particularly sorrowful, even bereft. Walks through el Charco~ which used to include looking for the day’s news in piles of scat, or sitting quietly in order to watch the antics of squirrels and kits~ now include silent memorials and the tossing of prayers and wildflowers into the wind.
Stepping into Nature, I feel an urgency to wrap my arms around the uncontainable wild, and protect her from any more transgressions. I know full well this is a rather impossible task, but sorrow has become a motivator. These flower-gathering walks are a way to honor what is gone and give hope to what might return to re-inhabit a once vital sanctuary. The longing for the pitter-patter of tiny, furred feet is tugging at my heart.