Smith Mountain Lake, Tracy K Smith, Virginia discussed on The Slowdown

The Slowdown


This last week, I went to Smith mountain Lake in Virginia to spend time with my husband's family. His mother was turning 77, and all her kids and grandkids gathered by a Lake for bonfires and group dinners, hot tub talk and boat rides. One morning my husband and I took the canoe for a long ride down the Lake. We saw Kingfisher, right off the bat, then he spotted a pilliod woodpecker in a leafless poplar trees. I loved the size of the bird, the long body, the fire red head, the loud laughter, it makes. Every time I leave the house, I try to spot new birds. Birds I wouldn't see at the backyard feeder. And when I do, I am reminded of how much better our world is with multiple species. How delighted the human mind can become, when we can see different types of animals and birds. How a great blue Heron can look so prehistoric and otherworldly when you don't see them very often. At one point, during the weekend, the lakes surface erupted in bubbles and splashes, and it looked like something out of a movie about the Loch Ness monster. Fish were just splashing frantically on the surface of the Lake. It looked like the whole Lake was alive. It was such a thrill. The wildness of it. The way the Lake seemed to move, made us realize how many big mouth bass striped bass or whatever were under the water that whole time. There was something primal about it, the recognition of so much life unseen. Later in the hot tub, we were talking about the future, the climate crisis, the pandemic. The places we find hope. And it felt like hope was right here. In the witnessing of the fish breaking the surface of the water, and how each one of us took turns, pointing out the herons on different days. Even the stray dog that wandered to the backyard became part of our story, and how our niece carefully walked at home, to make sure it was safe. And how we imagined bears, coming down from the mountain, each time we heard the frenzy of squirrels on the walnut trees. Even the imagined animals were part of what we found hope in. In today's poem, by my predecessor here, at the slowdown, the brilliant poet Tracy K Smith. We see how our imagined destruction can also be turned in to our imagined Salvation, and how that Salvation begins and ends with the animals. An old story by Tracy K Smith. We were made to understand it would be terrible. Every small want, every niggling urge, every hate swollen to a kind of epic wind. Livid the land and ravaged, like a rageful dream. The worst in us having taken over and broken the rest utterly down. Along age past. When at last we knew how little would survive us, how little we had mended or built, that was not now lost. Something large and old, awoke. And then our singing brought on a different manner of weather. Then animals, long believed gone, crept down from trees. We took new stalk of one another. We whipped to be reminded of such color..

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