photos by Iory Allison
This post is dedicated to the memory of Christopher Shaeed.
(December 23, 1952 – June 25, 2020)
Christopher was a deeply spiritual man, dedicated educator, bon vivant and loving husband of Stephen Nonack.
Gentle men and women are the true strength of a nation.
On the near border of far away, down secret paths through leafy woods leading to hidden water lily ponds, I sit on the bank eavesdropping on the conversation of the leaves as the wind makes the trees dance.
In the boggy shallows of the pond shore wild azalea bushes grow with zigzaggy arms and cascades of shiny green leaves. Sticky white azalea blossoms pour waves of sweet scent onto the hot wind blowing in from the desert dry dunes surrounding the woods.
A path screened by thickets of blueberry bushes twists through the cattail marsh, penetrating an invisible barrier into an unknown place.
All is silence and watchfulness in the woods surrounding the lily pond. I have entered the other side of reflection, a lost distance, passing through my phantom face floating on the surface of the water. I feel the eyes of shy creatures peering from behind veils of greenery.
For a little while a capricious sea mist blurs the sun bringing cooler wind from the ocean, gently ruffling the leaves of the maple and oak trees. A soft whispering hiss of voices passes along the treetops and then the wind spills on to the pond, ruffling a soggy carpet of ten thousand water lily pads.
Slender reeds attract dragonflies, fluttering transparent wings of blue green iridescence.
The silence is broken by a rhythmic twittering, chick-a-dee-a-dee-a-dee volleying back and forth. The tiny birds send out a scout and this curious fellow follows along beside me. I am happy for his company and I whistle a reply. Coming closer we inspect each other and I, tasting tangy blueberries wonder what my companion is thinking.
A brood of young black ducks dip and dive into blue-purple shadows, water reflecting black blades of green grass. They feed on weed roots while softly mumbling to each other the satisfied pleasantries of their day. At a slight distance the mother duck, poised and alert, keeps a watchful eye. She guards with pride and vigilance while her brood huddles in a knot feasting. Finding my attentions too presumptuous she leads a waddling march onto the bank and away, seeking the seclusion of their own company
On the bank above the pond, a grove of pitch pines reach for the sun providing a canopy of cool shadows, a place where emptiness has presence. There I am slowly absorbed into the stillness.