I drive a lot around this beautiful part of Nova Scotia for my work as a teacher of students with visual impairments. I try to always pay attention, to notice. I am sometimes rewarded with seeing owls or hawks staring at me from a tree on the side of the highway. (I caught myself saying out loud "Don't eat a chicken!" to an owl sitting on an evergreen branch last week. I hope she listens.) Sometimes it's deer that I see, and I've also seen a mink or two doing their strange little hustle on the shoulder. Sometimes it's the first pussy willows, or the first winterberries, for which I am always prepared with pruners tucked away in the back. It's always the sky, never the same, and I catch glimpses of the ocean often. Also, never the same. On my drive home at the end of the last day of work before March Break everything looked particularly dramatic, so I stopped at Mavillette Beach for a few minutes.
There are so many different kinds of noticing. There's the big scale kind, as I'm whizzing down the highway and admiring the sky, but when I make time to settle into a spot and begin noticing the minute detail in a type of moss or fungi, or seeing the nearly-invisible creatures in a cup of lake water, or separating and reattaching the barbs of a feather it's like entering a completely different world. This was what I spent my childhood doing, playing with alder leaves in ditches and laying on warm rocks and sand on the beach, and I sincerely believe that it has made be a better human being. Focusing on details of the natural world helps to put my small self into a much greater context, and reminds me of the interconnectedness of everything on the planet. It demonstrates the diversity and beauty in dissimilar things, and gives the mind a place to focus and rest. I think the world needs more of that.
I was thinking recently about The Big Tiny by Dee Williams, which I read a few years ago and loved. I watched Tiny on Netflix this week, which she is in, and although I have no real aspirations to live in a tiny house, I appreciate everything they stand for (minimal consumption of resources, financial independence, intentional and minimal living) and completely respect people who choose to make it happen. I'm not sure of the story behind the awesome little super-tall tiny house I've driven by in Mavillette, seen above. (If you know, do tell!) And then there's this tiny house I've also driven by which has this story behind it.
Beauty is in the details, as they say. When the rain stops, I'm planning to spend some time in the woods with my camera, appreciating some of those details.