Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Zen of March

We have several inches of (crusted) snow cover despite days of above normal temperatures. Tomorrow's forecast involves six or more inches of new snow. Last year the backyard was bare ground on March 6. We won't be close to that this year.

early Spring rain
early Spring rain
Photo by J. Harrington

Those who practice Zen Buddhism or follow the Tao note the benefits of living in the present moment. March in Minnesota makes it almost impossible to do anything but live in the present. One moment it's sunny and warm. A moment later it's snowing. Another moment and freezing rain is falling. Several moments later all of the above are melting and headed for the nearest creek, you know, where we can never step into the same one twice. March is a month of flow. Even the ground flows a little as the mud squishes out from under feet and vehicle tires.

Farmers wait interminable moments for their fields to dry so they can start field work. Anglers count moments while unsafe ice melts and open water appears, heralding a new fishing season. Turkey hunters wait for the moment a gobble sounds in the woods. Waterfowlers check moment to moment to see if "the birds" have returned. Those content to watch birds watch for the moment migrant songbirds or cranes arrive. What, other than wait, do we do with those moments while we are waiting?

return of the cranes
return of the cranes
Photo by J. Harrington

March offers us lessons in making the most of our moments. Spring's flow in March may surge and ebb more than the changes in other seasons, which teaches us to enjoy ephemera while they are here. Were it not for the march of each moment, would we have?

                     Zen Living

Birdsongs that sound like the steady determined tapping
of a shoemaker's hammer,
or of a sculptor making tiny ball-peen dents in a silver plate,
wake me this morning. Is it possible the world itself can be happy? The calico cat
stretches her long body out across the top of my computer monitor,
yawning, its little primitive head a cave of possibility.
And I'm ready again
to try and see accidents, the over and over patterns
of double-slit experiments a billionfold
repeated before me. If I had great patience,
I could try to count the poplar, birch and oak
leaves in their shifting welter outside my bedroom window
or the almost infinitesimal trails of thought that flash and flash
everywhere, as if decaying particles inside a bubble chamber,
windshield raindrops, lake ripples. However,
instead I go to fry some bacon, crack two eggs
into the cast-iron skillet that's even older than this house,
and on the calendar (each month another oriental fan
where the climbing solitary is dwarfed . . . or on dark blue oceans
minuscular fishing boats bob beneath gigantic waves)
X out the days, including those I've forgotten.

Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.