Small Noticings: A New Series


From our small perch, it has been tempting to look at the world not through our own windows, but the news right now. These very wide lenses project vast change and uncertainty. The ruminations of what could be ahead for the entire state, country, world are expansive and uncharted. Much as the horizon view seems to keep others centered, looking at everything at once is too much of a stretch for my head right now.

So for the past two months, I have been writing field notes nearly daily, small noticings of nature and life around me and in me.

We have been staying in Minnesota, and now a few weeks in a Wisconsin cabin due to a sold house. The landscape is unfamiliar and yet very predictable. It is not stunningly beautiful or inspiring.

But even the flat and brown landscape of the early spring here, when I look closely, has held small miracles: a wood duck with markings like a midcentury painting, white feather lines separating blocks of mustards and olives. A butterfly which has been hibernating all winter and emerges matching the dry leaves of spring. Even the late frosts, coating a single dead leaf, lifting it off the ground with morning shimmer.

Everyday, I do not notice something grand. But everyday I notice something. This is what has grounded me when the vast arc of the story of a pandemic flits over us like northern lights, mystery and unknown meaning shimmering above.

I've been holing up with all my notes in the basement and now cabin attic where I have written daily, a few spiders to keep me company. But my noticings are getting dusty fast, so it's time to open the windows and welcome guests.

Come back each day for the next few weeks, and I'll be sharing a small noticing, traveling right where my feet are planted, and no further, for now.