The Moon of Little Brother Singing (September-October).
“The true reality is absolutely unitary, unchanging, eternal, ‘the one.’” [Parmenides]
“Everything flows and nothing abides . . . nothing stays fixed.” [Heraclitus]
On a coolish fall morning I am sitting on a bed of leaves at a place of predilection, Wayá Sni, a nice camp spot on a bluff above the creek that forms one boundary of “my” land. My back rests against the black gum that supports my sleeping tarp. I gazed up at fish-scale clouds that occluded the southern and eastern skies. To the north and west, I noticed only partial occlusion. Concluding the possible approach of a frontal system, I sought a breeze with my face and found one, insistent and from the southeast, confirming in my mind an approaching cold front and probable rain in a day or two. Smiling, I gazed straight up and observed a cicada shell attached to the tree about five feet above. Abruptly, a gentle roaring burst into focus. In the Moon of Little Brother Singing such a roaring cicada song, one pervasively providing the background for all forest sounds, was to be expected. Turning my head in all directions, I listened closely to perceive its colorful nuance. At first the roar seemed continuous and unchanging, but upon closer inspection, I discerned a pattern. Extracting the song of a single cicada from the cacophony, I noticed a single note of several seconds duration followed by a pause. Returning to the roar, I eventually noticed a pulsing character within the overall song, a cyclic, encircling wave. Beginning in the east with the song of one or several cicada’s, others followed, joining in from the south then west and finally north. Before the initial wave was complete, another began, harmonizing with it, and then another. In this way, the cicada’s song was ever-present but not continuous, wave upon wave upon wave of cicada song, like a symphony with one instrument of varying rhythms and tones.
I heard a rustling at my feet and looked down to see an anole darting by. She may have been sunning in a spot of sun to my left, bolting when I moved my feet. A faint smell of skunk wafted on the breeze. Gazing about, I noticed chain fern in sporophyte along the bluff edge. Adjacent titi was reddening, about a fifth of its leaves had by now turned. I noticed sumac turning as well, and black gum’s splotchy, red-black leaves, all signs of fall. I looked for others. Bluestems were fully- grown, replacing last year’s ghosts; the brushy ones were already in seed. Purple-clustered beautyberry fed cardinals and jays. Goldenrods bloomed. By the solstice, their fully-formed achene fruits would be blown about, helter-skelter, by powerful winter winds and there await spring’s promise. A gulf fritillary flew by, the first one of the year. All the beings of forest and field were engaged in a flurry of activity, recognizing in each their own way the transformative fall season of the old order’s passing in winter’s death. Seeding grasses fed mice all winter. Squirrels buried acorns in a cache. The cicada’s sang their exuberant song, even while producing their young that would winter underground to emerge in spring and sing their song by late summer.
Intentionally practicing an integrated form of seeing that I call “horse-medicine-seeing.” I conducted long, deep observation-meditation sessions at many sites on the land, La Terre, for an entire year focusing alternately on individual organisms and ecosystems as wholes. I noticed an incredible degree of dynamic order whether in field or fen, forest or creek bank. Within the dynamism of change, order endured. I observed individual organisms, squirrels and water oaks, beech drops and millipedes, as they performed their unique doings in milieu, simply being in their forest homes as the seasons changed. Confirming the continual nature of change, these beings and
the milieu itself acted in the mode of Heraclitus who maintained that change was the overarching form of order in the universe. Yet even as I sat in the hawk blind, watching the bluestems in the field change through time, from summer’s growing tall, to fall’s flowering and seeding, and finally to winter’s death to be replaced entirely in the spring with a new growing plant born Phoenix-like from the roots of the old one, I was struck by the enduring nature of the field as a whole that acted in the mode of Parmenides who maintained that stasis was the overarching form of order, all change only appearance. The field seemed eternal; through weeks, months, years, the field endured. Its denizens alternately grew and withered and through it all, field remained field. When focusing on individuals, I saw dynamism, a continuing process of becoming. With whole forests in focus, I saw stasis; forest and field endured, essentially unchanged.