Seeking shelter

We spent the last couple of days cleaning up the yard after Hurricane Zeta blew through on Thursday with some impressive winds. They blew every brown pine needle (and lot of limbs) off the trees that surround our house, leaving us a yard that looked more like prickly brown carpet than soft green grass.

Pine needles cover our yard after Hurricane Zeta blew through

While the winds blew outside, we were grateful for the shelter of our home, fireplace lit and cozy, as we watched the storm create its own masterpiece outdoors. Later, as we raked the yard and picked pine needles out of the gardens and off the fresh mulch we’d just put down on many of our garden beds, we uncovered a few critters that had taken shelter among the new mulch or under fallen leaves. With the colder temperatures that followed the storm, the bees have remained tucked in under flowers and leaves, barely able to move.

A cold, raindrop bejeweled bee rests under a boneset flower.

Wooly bear caterpillars were tucked under leaves and snails were climbing out of their hiding spots in the forest floor…

Perhaps the most exciting critter we found seeking shelter was this fence lizard that was hiding inside a black plastic bin where we store wheat straw near our compost bins.

Fence lizard hiding in the wheat straw

He was sitting on top of the straw when I opened the bin, not moving, just resting and trying to keep warm in the safety of the straw. Look at the beautiful blue color under his belly in the photo below…

I was able to scoop him out of the bin and carry him around to the sunlight, still not moving anything but his eyes, watching to see if I would be a threat. After we took a few photos, we set him back in the straw bin and left him to keep warming.

Last night in our cleaned up yard, we sat by our campfire watching the bright, full, blue, harvest, Halloween, Samhain moon rise and were filled with awe. We spoke softly in the dark about the gratitude we feel for the shelter our little homestead provides for us these days. About the gifts of space, forest, creek, plants and trees, and all the animals that share this space with us. About our need, no, our obligation to care for these gifts in every way we can.

Last night I painted a picture to honor this rare blue, harvest moon. In it I placed a great-horned owl perched on a branch. This morning before the sun rose, a great-horned owl called to us from our backyard. There’s magic in that.

During the past few days many friends and acquaintances have mentioned that they are – or are needing to – seek shelter from the noise of the world, the election news, the anxiety-inducing pandemic, and the pressures of everyday life for a few minutes or days. We all need shelter, from the cold and rain or heat of the day, for raising our children, for safety amid a pandemic… but we also need shelter from the mental storm of 24/7 news, social media jabber, anxiety about what will happen if/when…

One place to find that shelter is in the woods, at the beach, on a mountaintop, in your yard. Nature has a way of soothing, healing, quieting, asking us to pay attention to what is right in front of us – those gifts of life that support us more than any of us ever give them credit for… And if you can’t get out in nature today to soothe your mind and spirit and shelter from the noise of life, you can find a few minutes to sit and close your eyes – meditate, breathe, thank something or someone, ask for peace, be at peace. Seek shelter in your own mind and heart.

(Note: If you need some help, Carrie Grossman is doing a Meditation for World Peace at 11:00 AM EST on Insight Timer today.)


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