Saturday, May 17, 2008
Take inventory. Instead of just looking at a thing, mentally list its parts and look at each one. Focus on one single plant then take a deliberate moment to look at where the stem comes from the ground, the stem itself, how the plant is branches, the leaves, the backside of the leaves, the edge of the leaves, the surfaces of the leaves, the buds, where the flower attaches to the stem, the flower petals, the flower center, the pollen, the seeds, and dried or dead plant parts from previous season on the ground. Pick out one tree, then look at the bark, the root flare, the size of the branches and whether the branching forks or alternates, the leaves, any seeds still on the tree. At a stream, notice the banks, the plants, the water, the rocks, the bottom under the water, where the soil goes from wet to dry at the edge, anything floating, any life in the water at the very edge. Notice the smell of the water and the soil and the plants. Hear the sound of the water and the birds and the rustle of leaves and your own footsteps. Touch the ground and the dried leaf litter and the water itself. Look at an insect and notice its legs and its body and its head and its mouth and its eyes and its antennae. Look at your own hand, the texture of the skin, the lines on the palm, the shape and color of the nails, the veins under the skin, any rings, any scars, calluses, injuries, dirty spots. Look at the face of a loved one. This listing seems time consuming and artificial at first, but like scanning where you move your eyes in a pattern, taking inventory becomes natural with time and practice and enriches your experience many time over.