I stood about twenty-five feet from a fawn feeding in lush green, tall grass along the hillside, on a foot path at the edge of the farm, near the back forty. For a long while she didn’t see me. Then she did. Then she sprung, bounding along the ravine toward Muir Beach. And her white bushy tail soon vanished behind the grass. Perhaps an eye that discerns differences dilated in recognition before her body recoiled like a spring. Perhaps an eye of oneness transgressed a moment too long, looking beyond some threshold of harmony.
The owls are out now, hooting at twilight amidst the chirp and chatter of songbirds, trilling and whistling. Softer, fainter. Somewhere the master switch on the volume nodule turned low. Probably by a long slender arm, as the sun dips west below the Pacific. And the running marketplace, since the afternoon ticker-tape commentary of quails and crows becomes a kind of remembrance on the air. Resonance. Echo. Perhaps it’s often intuitive enough to discern vaguely some precipice where life harmonizes in the valley. That feels like much of what we practice day-in, day-out, within and without. “Ambulatory embodiments of work” that we inhabit (as Qayyum nicely phrased it in an email.) Less clear is the exactitude of that delta—what’s ephemerally contained, uncontainable, what sings beneath the current, ebbs and flows. Like counting waves. But who’s waiting for nirvana anyway?
While sitting zazen my first morning we could hear coyotes yowling in the near distance outside the zendo, cries volleying back and forth in the hills over an orchestra of songbirds. The muted blare of fog horns some few miles away. What doesn’t thrum or hum with life in the gulch? Last week we planted at both the back forty and at the fifth, communing with the earth, cultivating our 7-acres of farm into the full thrust of harvest.
I’ve snapped a few photos since approaching the deer on the outskirts of the farm, some two months ago and counting: Qayyum and Emila at market at Ferry Plaza; Nick, Duras and Isabelle weeding the green beans; an otherworldly sunset along Coyote Ridge; an equal parts silly and sweet, post-lunch impromptu line-up for shoulder massages near the Kitchen Garden. Even the one head of green lettuce among red-heads seems to harmonize fashionably in its rebellion. Little Buddha leaf.
The deer approach the yurts about every evening. “They with you?” Qayyum asked me walking out his front door. Maybe I’d like it if I were more with them. Though I’d probably hasten for exemption from chasing, or rollicking and being chased through thickets of grass. Feeding on the hillside might not be bad, before the skunk joins in furiously, nuzzling the earth for grubs—little self-possessed gorger at dusk he seems to be. And at three decades and change, I’d probably opt out from the whole ‘let’s smash our heads together and sharpen our antlers game.’ But who’s to say? Stars will soon light up the night sky with constellations. Everything changes. And then the evolving stories from antiquity that the stars tell remind: Nothing changes. Below the yurts, the fields are in constant transformation, abundant and bountiful (and beautiful) before harvest clear cuts the treasured goods back to soil. Yesterday, as the first morning: the wake up bells, far off, then near, then the scampering of feet; and the sound of the bells moving through the morning between sleep and thought awakening.