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  • Writer's pictureSara McFarland

Osprey neighbors

Spring comes slowly this year, frost still graces the ground with kisses in the mornings. Daffodils and grape hyacinth bloom and the tulips push green leaves out while still dreaming of buds not yet thickening. The skies are gray, sometimes rainy, the lake level rises. However, the creatures know their longing. An Osprey couple have arrived, making their home on the electrical mast a few

hundred meters from our apartment. The mother already brooding, the father making daily hunting trips to the lake for fish. I watch as an eco-community springs into life around their nest. Jackdaws hoping for scraps, sparrows sitting on the twigs sticking out from their huge nest. The mother sits for about 45 days on the eggs, staying in the nest except to clean herselft, being fed by the father until the babies hatch. Three months later, they are ready to learn to fly. How incredible will that be to watch! One morning, we see a deer trying to get to the small herd and being fought off by another - is he being rejected and sent out at the end of winter? Is he an interloper trying to get close to a new community? It is exciting to watch the fight. I think of humans watching boxing and feel slightly embarrassed. I am always looking for correlation between human behavior and the behaviour of other creatures. Proof of our being nature as well, places where both creation and destruction are visible in a way that crosses species boundaries, shows patterns of the Life Death Life cycle.

I have had the flu recently and was sick for over a week. I spent a lot of time in the liminal grounds between life and death. It seems to me this early spring time is also a liminal time between the death gestation dreaming we call winter and the renewal and birthing we call spring. While lying there, I spent time feeling my ancient animal body’s trust and feeling the modern human’s fear of death in me. Old wounds from the time I was tiny, as well as the presence of ancestors, of death itself was with me. There was a day or two with fever, where I felt both the restlessness and the hush of the balance point. And after that, I could feel the turn towards life again, could feel the healing happening, the impulse towards living. My thinking mind never logically thought I would die, of course. But the soul of me knew to take the opportunity to get close to death in life, to not waste the gift of the liminal space to let it do its dreaming work on me. Important to the too civilised too comfortable one of me, as well as the one who thinks she knows something about life, about death. To be taken down by a virus is to be humbled and to let the body’s knowing of disintegration and healing guide. The mind and its controlling has no power over a virus. Brought to the creatureliness of my own existence, I could only wait and trust life to renew itself, like the spring returning after the winter, no matter how slowly.

Coming through the winter is no small task, as is coming through a fever. In our current civilisation it is, of course, easier to do both. Central heating, plumbing and electricity, as well as pain relievers and warm soft beds, make the discomfort much less and the likelihood of survival much higher. And yet, although I am grateful for these things, I wonder what it is I lose in the process. What dreams or ways of being remain unknown to me, but would have been very familiar to my ancestors just a few hundred years ago. To feel the body’s capacity for weakness and strength, illness and resilience is also a way of trusting Life. I do not take for granted the coming through the winter or this illness, to now slowly blossom into spring health. To welcome the Osprey returning from Africa to build a nest atop an electrical mast is a miracle that defies the idea of a pristine “Nature” that is removed from humans and our creations. We are of one another and interdependent with one another. Each season, each creature- human, Osprey and virus - all part of the wholeness we call Life.

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