Friday, March 18, 2011


The month of March is a time of emergence, and that is a theme for me, now that I’m able to get out and walk more. In the past two weeks, the influx of blackbirds, robins, grackles, killdeer, and sandhill cranes has become more noticeable. This is always an important psychological and philosophical occurrence for me, because my birthday is on March 4th, about the time these birds are usually migrating. At first they trickle in, but one day you step out and witness a full-scale invasion force. And the other day, as I was coming out of a building, I noticed the leaves of some sort of lilies or other bulb plants coming out. Although I use my 15-minute coffee breaks to walk around my block of buildings, and I’ve also taken a few longer walks, the weather has gotten to where I can now do some serious walking.

Soon it will be April, whose name, “Aprilis,” means “I open.” I find that walking encourages an emotional and psychological opening. For example, I have a problem of getting into a negative feedback loop, where with my mental voice (my “self talk”), I keep reiterating all of the negative things in my life, telling myself and the rest of my mental audience everything that’s frustrating, or falling apart, or going wrong. When I start out on my walks, the negative self talk will often start up as well. However, I have found that when I’m out in open nature, an “opening out” process ensues, where I am being drawn out of myself and more into the world of nature, which has the effect of slowing and muting the negative thoughts.

Another thing that I find good for stifling the negative self talk, (and all thoughts in general), is walking into the face of a brisk wind, (like I did this morning). Somehow that really clears the mind. Of course, where I live in Mid-Michigan, that means the West Wind. The North, South, and East winds are considerably less common. The East Wind is something else again, because it is a trickster wind—typically both the herald and attendant of freakish weather. Last year, a driving east wind cracked some of my bedroom window panes.

By the way, yesterday evening was the “Night of the Peepers,” (immortalized in an essay by Joseph Wood Krutch), and this morning I saw some poor squashed leopard frogs on the road, which means that despite the falling temperatures at night, it’s getting warm enough for frogs to get on the move. To honor my French (and, farther back, Belgian) ancestry, I should do something special, because the first frog chorus is a big event in French and Belgian folk practice, occasioning an annual festival.