As you’re noticed, 2020 is not gone. It won’t be till we get everyone vaccinated against COVID, the Unelected One and his angry gullibles. All will pass, but not because December did. 2020(b)
The Solstice was real—shortest daylight of the year. Already a solid 8 minutes more light, with another 10 minutes by Inauguration Day. Ignore the calendar. Watch the light. (Chart here).
Kevin Barnett has goaded me into any number of life-threatening experiences on the trail. A couple years ago when we thought NC Medicaid “transformation” was happening, we flew him out to give us some clues how to transform the transformation. Turned out we were two years early, but we took advantage of his coming to go hike. Mt Sterling marks the near edge of the Great Smokies only a few hours by car and another twenty by boot, so off we went.
We were surprised as the the early spring trail crossed streams wide and fast. Eventually we thought we saw the crest so we pushed up and on. As often happens in life, we had mistaken the false summit for the true peak still hundreds of feet and several miles up the trail. Nearly out of water, we trudged heads down, hardly noticing the broad ranks of hills below. There was no water at the campsite. But we noticed a diminutive faded sign guiding us a half mile down the other side of the crest, where we found a trickle oozing through the moss. It was beautiful. That night storms, stretched our stakes and fabric to the max; bladder, too as, filled of clean mountain water, I got drenched when I had to pee. The next day was all downhill as we noticed all sorts of flowers and birds missed amid the sweat coming up.
You have to notice what’s going on in reality. Don’t take human signs seriously. Things like calendars. Even elections, which can mark the fork in the trail but don’t move the mountain.
Just after Christmas (a day chosen by a long-dead Roman politician) I was part of a conversation about “measuring.” Four Leading Causes of Life Fellows: Paul Laurienti (a no kidding brain scientist), Jim Cochrane (who has been walking from apartheid for decades), Teresa Cutts (ranked researcher who never met a academic measure she trusted) and me (I got a 92% on my NC State beekeeper exam). We wanted to go closer to reality and living, and knew that measurement often makes us dumber about that. Many of us with jobs feel pressure to measure things to prove this or that in order to earn tinsel for our professional tree. Measures are not without value, but outcomes, deliverables and other false summits can get you lost if you don’t pay attention to the ground you are walking.
So we found ourselves talking about a “discipline of noticing” that would honor and refine the “practices of noticing” …life.
We only got far enough in the conversation to clarify what we wanted. You might want to be part of finding our way.
How do we know where we are and what time it is? Look to the sunrise.
How do we know the weather? Look to the sky.
How do we know who to trust? Beware the vipers and those that live on their waste online.
In short, notice the fruits that run from the Spirit of Life. These are qualities that by scientific definition can’t be measured like quantities.
But we can notice qualities systematically. And we can help each other practice noticing so we are living in the real world.
Jim recorded the Zoom. It would be a good January 6th present to yourself to notice it. Here.
In the meantime, we work toward Spring. On the day that was supposed to be New, I built new hive boxes for my thousands of bee girls.
My bee mentor, David Link, noticed that one of my hives was small. So small that the big one started to rob it and maybe too small to stay warm through the winter. He loaned me smaller boxes. Then I drove the girls in my Mini over to Linwood’s yard and wrapped them in Styrofoam to give them a chance. As of yesterday, they were still flying. Glad David helped me notice.
I am building new frames of clear pine with finger joints so tight I need a mallet; brass screws and glue, because the bees are thinking more than one honey harvest as they have been since before we humans noticed and painted them on cave walls.
These are hard days for bees and democrats (small d). In damp 35-degree wind they huddle close and protect the next generation. They don’t crap in their capitol. When it’s warm enough go poop away from the home. On the way, they stop by the nearby Camellia to bring back some pollen and nectar. Who knew it would be blooming? They help each other notice. And so Spring comes.