It’s still springtime, and my adventures in nature immersion continue…

There’s this little brown rabbit – I’ve written about him here – who often appears before me on the cypress wetlands trail in the mornings, always in the very same spot. It’s a curvy place in the trail right past the Y, if you step out the back door and walk to your left. (Sorry, I don’t do directions like east and west. I lack that gene.)  I saw him a lot last summer and fall, then winter was upon us and, alas, I wasn’t on the trail much. I don’t think he was, either, because whenever I did venture out, he was nowhere to be seen. Then, a few days before Easter, he suddenly appeared to me for the first time in months. The date of his reemergence is easy to remember, because I immediately made the connection. (Easter/Bunny. Get it?) And he showed himself several times after that, too… but for the past couple of weeks, nada. I’ve been taking my camera out lately, shooting miscellaneous sights on the trail – it’s incredibly therapeutic for a brain that tends toward restlessness – and I was growing more eager by the day for a shot of my little brown rabbit. Also growing worried. I’d begun to fear he was no longer with us.

So, today, I’m on the elliptical machine and I’m watching the news from Baltimore, and I feel my heart in my throat and the tears itching behind my eyes and I know I have to get out of there. It’s a little cold and damp outside, but I don’t care. I need out. I scramble in my bag for my camera-phone, and dammit. It’s not there. I’ve left it at home. I can’t take pictures of small, exquisite life forms along the trail (see my dragonfly, above!), an exercise I’m coming to need as much as my sweaty efforts in the gym…

But I hit the trail anyway, with images of burning Baltimore dancing (obscenely) in my head, and these words thrumming a back beat: Please let him be there. Please let my little brown rabbit be there. I need to see him. If I see my little brown rabbit, everything will be okay. I will be okay, Baltimore will be okay . . . the world will be okay.

And guess what? He showed. After weeks on hiatus, my little brown rabbit was right there in his curvy place. I almost couldn’t believe it. He stared at me for quite a while – I could have gotten a picture! – then disappeared into the brush. (I have no idea what goes on in there. Anybody?) I felt my heart rate starting to slow and my spirits rising. I decided “aerobics time” was over for the day, literally strolled to the observation deck – I had it all to myself (cold and damp, remember?) – and looked at some birds through the viewfinder. Mostly egrets and a few Anhinghas. (Man, are they ever gorgeous.) Perching . . . preening . . . gliding . . . nesting. Just doing their thing. Calmly. So calmly. Ah… This was good . . .

Nature repairs, restores, and redeems. Even when the little brown rabbit doesn’t show up. Even when you forget your camera. It just does. It’s almost like a law.

I started thinking about that law – the one that says nature just makes you feel better – and then I remembered this fascinating Nova special we watched the other night. . . the one about mathematics. (Yes, it was a show about math, and it was fascinating. I swear!) I began pondering Pi and the Fibonacci Sequence and the Law of Falling Bodies… and all the other mysterious, math-y things that occur in nature, over and over. . . in flowers and leaves and the delicate whorls of shells. I thought about how mystical and marvelous and, yet, strangely comforting it all is – the order of it, the beauty, the symmetry. And I wondered about those young people in Baltimore . . . the ones I saw on TV, who’ve been burning down and tearing up their city out of anger and hopelessness and a disregard for life. I thought about the chaos they live in, and how chaos breeds more chaos.

And then I had this thought: That I wish I could take them all by the hand and walk them through the cypress wetlands of Port Royal, South Carolina.

 

(Note: These thoughts may be expanded into a full-blown column for Lowcountry Weekly. If that happens, let’s all pretend we haven’t read them before, shall we?)