“On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it.”
— Jules Renard
I am strolling by our neighborhood lake. It is an act of returning to the hedges and thickets and the ducks swimming in the torrid waters, to the old patch by the lake. The swans wander helter-skelter, bite and moan, writhe and make love, floating their wings, whispering in the moist wind. I walk the road, the green patch with swabs of duck mud and splattering splashes of my eagerness and want, at the twilight hour every day. I discover and become one with the strings of nature’s own music that binds me, keeps together the disconnected parts of my soul, searching, hoping, failing, losing, crushing like rotten weeds, rising in dreams and moving on, undaunted. This is the place to learn to string myself together, this is a place to learn the ultimate act of detachment and dissolution.
Towards the end of my pregnancy trimesters, I am mumbling my soliloquies and waiting, waiting to hold myself as the night breaks with the ripples of the tranquil waters. I look intent, into the movements of the ducks and geese, alert, awake, nibbling on mud and dirt, flapping wings all the way to the end of the water bodies, where the stony pavement kisses my walking feet.
Walking around the lake throughout the nine months of the season, I watch the trees transform from bare branches, stalked by the morning frost to the lush green, listen to the sounds as the winds and the crisp morning air rustle the leaves. The brown, bare, winterkilled grass has grown into tall green patches over the summer. I watch the leaves change from lush green to brown, yellow, orange, while the mahogany benches by the sides of the lake call out silently, with names, memories, stories encrypted in their rusted folds. I am the lake walker beckoned by the stories of the families and lives lived in the lakeside community, walking along the roads and the snow bends, the crunching of old feet trailing with little, unassuming footsteps of infants learning to walk.
Wonder, ruminations and reflections brew slowly in the endless solitude of these walks, as I trudge the asphalt and concrete roads. The roads begin to merge, melt together in diverse, unknown, unending trails, with the promise of a vast landscape of possibilities contrived by Nature and God. The green grassy roads are stretched out like long, horizontal ribbons across the wide spectrum of land. Every day, at the twilight hour, when my feet crunch against the grass, I roam around the long strands and wish to tie them together, in inquiry and in the sanctity of my silence.
Summer and Fall, 2014
Fast forward six years, I visit the lake and the surrounding community, hand-in-hand with my little girls, wander with them over the vast stretches of the trails. Strong gusts of wind carry us away while we take pictures of the lake, the ducks and the geese. I revel in this life as the nurturer of little bodies and souls expanding, growing, opening their eyes to the stretch of the Midwestern prairies. With their little, growing feet, they touch and caress the grass beneath their feet. The little hands and feet keep bouncing in glee as they watch, curious and intent, the tranquil water bodies, while the ducks keep flapping their wings, come over to the lakeside trails and walk together with us, their beaks full of grass. With their constant chirping, silly moves and dances, they blossom forth in this snug and welcoming lakeside, as I look into this all-encompassing green, moist and nurturing, which is all mine, which is all theirs, preening and prancing in the joy and victory of their little explorations. Their wonder-filled world is nurtured by dreams of fairies, princesses, ‘Dora the Explorer’, Elsa and Anna, the two sisters and princesses of the magical kingdom of Arendelle. In the parks where their little hands build sand castles, where they revel in their joy rides of slides and carousels, I watch them grow, slowly and surreptitiously, relishing their glittering eyes, their moist, tender breaths absorbing the dew drops, the rainbow and the white clouds in the horizon.
Hand-in-hand, they walk with me in the feather-weight of their daydreams; while I can feel the bounty of their imagination smoothening the crumpled love-letters of my girlhood days. In the furtive wind, I revel in the vastness and horizon of the sky and the open fields, teaching them the very first lessons of the possibilities of God in Nature’s smiling infinitude.
Copyright: Lopa Banerjee. March 2015