Contemplation on the Blue Oak Trail

Here, hiking the rolling hills covered in twisted, mossy oaks, contemplation comes easy. Nature whispers in our ear, or pounds us over the head, and says, "pay attention!"

Just feeling the crunch of the soil under our feet can wake us up from our detached slumber. Are we of this, or outside of it? The Blue Oaks are sleeping now. Perhaps they are dreaming in a way we can not know. If we allow that there is a correspondence with all things, we can imagine that their process of dormancy is similar to ours, in a way.

In the fall, deciduous trees like the Blue Oak lose their leaves in a process known as abscission. The trees reabsorb the nutrients from the leaf before starting a cellular process that detaches the leaves from the tree. 

As we drift off to sleep, we reabsorb the nutrients of our day. That which we gave out comes back to us. In our own abscission, we drop the facade of our posture for the embrace of the mattress. We are not the vibrant, colorful crown of our day. We become the bleary eyed structure that needs to rest and regenerate. The tree absorbs the nutrients from the leaves and stores them in its roots for later use. The nutrients and toxins of our day are absorbed too, and stored in our roots as we sleep, for later use. Will they allow us to grow, or will they weaken our structure?

Maybe we recognize a tangle of confusion, not unlike the chaotic flow of our own current of thought. We can see where thoughts change direction, break off, twist, turn and gather their own moss and momentum. 

Then, rounding a corner, we might see a crown that teaches us to stretch and reach in every direction. Even in repose, the slumbering giant still holds life delicately in its embrace. 

Often on the trail, we can meet trees that have lived, stretched, reached and grown, and now their shells are the foundation and nutrients for new growth and new life. And the tree is oblivious to this of course. It knows only its life. But now we can see that the sharing and growth continue long beyond the life of the structure.

A little patch of earth shows both decay and growth. The cycle is both visible and invisible, because profound changes are happening at every point along the spectrum of life. Trillions of bacteria nibble away at the leaves, breaking them down in to new structures of contribution. Mosses, fungi and lichen, along with green shoots, come out the other end of the process. 

All the while, the trees reach and explore. They twist and stretch to experience their own environment. 

There is nothing in isolation in nature. There is growth upon growth, and life and worlds live on small and vast scales. On the surface of a tree, we can see a whole new forest of moss and lichen, with little streams, and whole generations of spiders and other insects live and die here, knowing only this world.

We can see how easy it is to change our perspective. Perhaps we can learn how to focus on different views of the same scene. 

Maybe we can understand that the impact of a moment can be changed by simply looking at it differently.

Even at the surface level of observation, we can still enjoy and experience tranquility. We can see the gentle rolling slope of the hills, the vibrant green of winter grass, the lazy ramble of a hungry cow. 

Every observation is a gift, and can be experienced as a whisper or a roar. Nature speaks. Do we listen?

Blue Oak and Spengler Trails

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