Mud: Photo by Noelle
I touch the surface with my fingers. I find it’s kind of an artist’s Braille. There’s something about the craggy mess, especially when there is moist gooey mud underneath that captivates me. Sometimes I wonder if what I’m really looking for is a picture of Elvis or Jesus to appear. “Look… Don’t you see? Right there next to the half squashed dragonfly and below the willow stick. If you turn your head slightly to the side you’ll see President Putin’s face.”
I don’t know what I’m after honestly. A great masterpiece in earth and water. In my smartphone apps you can clarify a picture, which is to say you can pull forth all of the color and light available in an image with much higher clarity. It doesn’t add what isn’t there or detract, it just shows you the mass of what is available. I’ve had photos of pink and purple mud, blue green and so forth. The camera pulls up the conglomerate of minerals and rock debris in the mud. Sometimes it has algae mixed in or red stone sediment and voila! we have something completely new.
Clarity in all things is like this. The clearer I see myself, circumstances, other people and events, the more I perceive the depth of light and color in each. I see who I am, really, in the presence of all of these other things. I understand the mineral make up of my mud. A great masterpiece in earth and water.
Really look deep. Take in the red and let it sink into your root chakra – fire. Allow the rich azure to settle upon you a royal crown. Draw the green into your heart on each breath and know your majesty. Feel the color filling you up, the coolest draught. Drink yourself drunk on the beauty. Now settle down. Sink your feet like tree roots into the earth. Go down, deep and dark into the fertile soil until you hit the molten core. You are exactly where you are meant to be. Breathing in the earth and breathing out love. There is a a pulse as deep in the earth as in you, waiting for you to lay your hand upon it.
In the Land of Algae grows dragonfly larvae and tadpole eggs. A curious place of varied greens and swirling motes that build grasshopper an island. In the Land of Algae is the home of the skating water bug, fat belly and spindly legs, skipping over oxygen bubbles and landing in dark mud, seeping from delicious decay. In the Land of Algae is a planet unknown, as Mars and Jupiter, but so much closer to home.
It seeps and bubbles with oxygen and fermenting life from last season and rot… oh there is definitely rot. Dead leaves, sticks, bugs, old fish. It is a soup of color and life that smells earthy and pungent. I watch a water bug crawl across its surface. I cannot tell if it searches for food or is its food. Mosquitos swarm above me, but I tell them I’m busy. They’ll have to dine elsewhere. Most listen, anyway. I love ponds, streams and strange pools of water that life springs out of; moist, hot and teaming with all manner of crawling and swimming things. Sometimes they’re creepy and beautiful, other times decayed and rich.
I grew up on a lake in a neighborhood of mostly boys. I had five brothers. I caught toads and snatched up frogs with a stealth a stork would envy. Salamanders and crawfish were my favorite, but they’re tricky. Not easy to find in fresh water streams and under rocks. I never killed anything. I just liked to catch them and look at their beauty. Flying crickets, Daddy Long Legs, praying mantises, rolly pollies and aphids. Furry night moths, lightning bugs, and long earth worms. Tadpoles, sunnies and catfish. Pike, sometimes, snappers often and boxed turtles on occasion. Once a copperhead snake swam alongside me on the lake and scared me half to death. Their bite is most unpleasant. Smores by the campfire invited a troupe of ants to visit my sleeping bag one night. I have never screamed so loud in all my life.
I spent a lot of time alone as a child. I was often lonely, but never bored. My capacity for make-believe had me in trouble for daydreaming, over the course of my school years, more often than I can count. I enticed a chipmunk into my lap with nothing but my hands, once, and then spun a story of a monk village guarded by dragon and damselflies. I regaled my furry friend with my story, but it only slept. Little heartbeat beating like wild horses in its breast. I couldn’t understand why I never quite fit in anywhere and in my early years thought of my younger self always the odd man out. Or, in this case, odd girl out.
I stare into the percolating algae that festers with life and imagine the gnats and mosquitos are angels that follow me everywhere I go. I am the princess of a swamp and they are my guardians. What is there to do? Bugs and birds may swarm, but never princesses. They always seem to travel alone.