The skies these past few weeks have been curiously drowsy. Odd, Spring-like conditions have prevailed. That should come as no surprise, considering the climate in general, but it makes for a moody situation. We scatter straw across the yard to absorb the mud. The stage, jutting out from the porch, is surrounded by a pale yellow straw beach, giving it the quizzical appearance of a tropical desert island. But the air is damp and cool and the sun barely shines. Last night, however, the stars were holding court. A front brought a cooler dryness and the muddy straw is exhaling. The sky was clear enough for me to see the Milky Way from the street of our city suburb. It is a poetic moment for the season. The clearing sky, the fresher air, the brilliance of the stars all inspire the moment with hope and dreams.
Most afternoons recently our yard would have Nick (9) swinging, Kaiya (9) hanging, and Jordan (3) climbing, while Jasmine (2) runs in tight circles around it all, nipping and yapping. Occasional appearances of the sun would lure us out only to usher in the clouded gloom, which seems desperate for our attention. It is as if our attention is deliberately directed to the gloom. It is easy to feel the gloom, but to really heed it is another matter. With a little less self-pity and a little acquiescence, the attention shifts. I look out and see the boon of mud.
The mud is magnificent. It has a dark, fudgy firmness. It clings well to heel and toe, then falling in dried shards around the house. Either the mud wants to come in from the gloom or it wants us to go out. Both, of course. There is a story of a boy who comes to honor Buddha with gifts. Having nothing, the boy makes a mud pie and prayerfully presents it. The gift is received with a blessing and the boy is reincarnated as the great king, Ashoka. There is more to the story, and others can explicate its significance to Buddhism. But to me, this New Year is offering us the rich earthy mud, filled with potential for new life.
So I offer you good wishes for the year ahead. May 2012 bring many blooms from the soil of 2011.