Everybody's Talkin'

Everybody's talking at me
I can't hear a word they're saying
only the echoes of my mind....

Silence is a great source of strength....Lao Tzu

Yesterday by day's end, I found only two eggs adorning the light blue nesting boxes lining the eastern wall of Fort Seuss. "You're holding out on me," I scolded the girls, and today found an unheard of eight eggs before ten a.m. They're late layers, sometimes waiting until several hours after noon before producing their precious poultry prizes. Rain was expected later in the afternoon so I hastened to get all my chores complete before a day of doing nothing began. So much to do. Nothing to do. Nudging the border of it being almost overwhelming.

I needed quiet. Solitude. Recharging.                                                                                                                                          

Gaia Girl and her study of herbs and plants, both foreign and domestic, found me seeking Chaga - which is known to grow on the birch trees of New England and of which, New England has many. So I grabbed my bicycle and hit a section of old growth I remembered that shared an abundant population of white, yellow and black birch. 

 My mother as I remember, held a great affection for birch.  Birch trees stand out amid any crowd of trees. Dressed in white. Separate. Maybe she saw them as something holy. No matter how obscured and hidden the birch trees were to my mother's eye they came out of the wood and just stood there. I rode into the woods recalling that I have seen many a birch and I believe that I've never seen Chaga growing on these statuesque beauties; only the often found kidney shaped mushroom Piptoporus betulinus. Intrigued, I rode my Fuju into the woods in search of my maiden's delight hoping to find for her the charcoal black mushroom. This patch of fire roads, flood zone and former hunting patch have now had all their entryways gated and closed off to traffic. Whereas we once drove field cars brazenly fast through these old fire roads I was now forced to park my pick up and go in on foot with my two wheeled comfortable companion.

I encountered a male ring-tail pheasant which could not have possibly survived the mildest of winters on record, but perhaps he did. Life is full of perplexities. He was tame as a chicken. Maybe the people up the road have been feeding him. He was pretty and healthy and what I would describe as a show quality specimen. I sincerely hope that he outlives the coyotes, fisher cats and the many other predators more numerous than he. Hell, he made it through the winter.(?)
 I was taken by the overgrowth that now covered and hid many of these once familiar paths and cart roads. Stands of pine that harbored years of memory. A mystical peninsula that once captured my imagination it's path now obscured. And birch. Plenty of birch. Yet no Chaga.

I did locate several stands of trees with Burl. Very similar to Chaga in the respect that both are the symptom and outcome of a stress being inflicted on the tree.

Burls and Chaga. I am reminded of something I read recently in Tricycle that said, "Don't use practice to improve the situation of your life. Use the situation of your life to practice." Like a grain of sand that later becomes the pearl, stress and irritants could just as well be allowed to teach us. To offer something of  medicinal value or beauty. A pearl of wisdom.

Like trying to read the tire size from off the tires of a line of passing cars, I get dizzy with the effort of listening to the voices;
the voices of everything I've ever read.
Of everything I've ever seen on t.v. or at the movies.
The voices of my teachers, my friends, my enemies, my lovers.
God, Buddha, Taoists, Zoroasters, Mitt Romney and FOX news.
Oh, and me Mum and Father.

Sometimes the meditation hall is not the place for quieting the clamoring voices that have accumulated like millions of gallons of water held back behind the wall of a great dam. I can at times, come closer to understanding why it was that Te Shan burned all his books after enlightenment. So I retire to TaoSpring for it is just such a place for recharge and quiet. The raised beds are being prepared for planting. It's a delight when they are filled with green and flourishing life. Raspberries against the tree line. Birds busily doing what birds do. The chickens playing like mischievous children.

Retreat. Solace. And the discovery of Chaga and Burl in the gated woods of the mind offering healing and wisdom. Now that's TaoSpring.
Even the chickens agree!