Biological Meditation

I. Walking down into the stream valley.

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I let myself slow to the pace of the forest and I silence my boots. Redwood mixed with bay laurel, and ferns and mosses to fill in the gaps. Stream rushing creates active quiet. All who walk through abide. Mind alive with biological inquiry, newly learned facts about this scientifically enchanted world around me. Upward colonization by fungus. Round boring beetle holes. Spider webs, water striders. Electric, pulsing mycorrhizae underneath my clunky feet. Air swollen with water. Evidence of past fire, low to the ground, on redwood. Mixed succession up the mountain, all around me. This biological meditation fills me with curiosity, wonder, and a placing of myself, wandering animal, in the magnificent ecos. I am honored to be here.

I test my balance and instincts and close my eyes. Stream becomes louder and ground pushes harder against my feet. I veer to the right, my shoe hits a root and the uncertainty opens my eyes on reflex. I try again. Eyes closed, the sun surprises my forehead with warmth. This time, the uncertainty does not force my eyes open.

I am struck by the aliveness, the constant change and motion, among what seems upon first glance a still and peaceful “landscape.” The insects, the bacteria, the climate, the redwood’s xylem and phloem, the rush of the stream – they are all constantly pushing, moving, changing what is there.

II. Crossing ecotones.

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As I walk, Doug Fir forest morphs into chaparral morphs into forest and back again, following geologic and climatic cycles. Subduction, rapid tectonic collisions, slow weathering by waves and rain and wind and fog. I feel the cycles beneath my feet.

California Poppies bloom bright orange and dance in the breeze, as do two Cooper’s hawks. Straight wings and graceful swooping. The hawks fly out of my vision, leaving only the turkey vultures, who dance with bent wings and wobble as they hover. They are here because there is space to wander, as am I.

In the dense forest I am slow, but in the vast open hills, my steps instinctively get larger. My body opens up like the terrain; I feel powerful. Past forces merge with present ones and I walk along the intersection. Nothing is still but the plastic we carry with us.
I meditate on motion.

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