There is always a good side to having a bad week in which the computer crashes, the truck breaks down, and the camera dies. When the problems are fixed and the crisis is over, the experience of being back to an ordinary level of stress is truly energizing!
The dark and rain of winter’s early night sent the dogs flying back indoors after their evening constitutional. They weren’t about to wait outside or on the cold concrete floor of the garage while I fed the pigs and tidied up the stalls. And so, with the dogs safely in the warm, dry house, I spent some time sitting with the piggies, singing to them in a dark barn lit only by the dim glow of a flashlight.
Scotch LOVES to be sung to. His body immediately relaxes, he rolls over with his head near my lap and his belly by my hand. He softly “oof oof oofs” as if humming along. Several of the pigsters also love the sound of music – the cadence and rhythm of the voice seems to settle them like a lullaby settles a sleepy babe. They snuggle into the fresh straw and the wool blankets, and they snuffle and wiggle and snork. (I know “snork” isn’t a word, but it describes the sound they make – not really an oink, not really a grunt, not really an “oof” – it is a “snork!”). One or two will jump back up and run to the water dish or trot into the feed stall to make sure no one has left a piece of grain or a morsel of pumpkin.
I sit with my back against the smooth pine slats. I listen to the rain on the metal roof, drumming in accompaniment to the soft vocalizations of the pigs and I. It is soothing, it is restful, and I feel the last of the stress slide from my body and dissipate into the soft earth of the stall floor.
I often wonder how the younger generation, with their apparent need for constant noise and motion and steady stream of micro-bytes of colourful visual information flashing at them nonstop, how they ever manage to clear their minds, to relax their bodies, to just let go and be one with their universe.
I could not be fully human without my connection to nature, to this incredible universe of which we are a part. I would be no more than another piece of technology, acting without thought and without appreciation, if I could not at times escape to breathe in the scent of the barn, if I could not gaze at the distant mountains, if I could not feel the animals nearby, if I could not take this time for myself. It is what breathes life back into me after the modern world has sucker-punched me in the gut. It is what keeps me strong. It is what keeps me sane. It is what reminds me of the truly important things in life, and gives me space to clarify my goals, my sense of purpose, my raison d’etre.
In the words of American naturalist and essayist John Burroughs: “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”
An hour in a dark barn on a cold, rainy evening, warm piggies all around me, and my senses are back in order, and I am soothed and healed.