Many of you may have heard the quote “your one wild and precious life” but did you know it comes from Mary Oliver’s poem – The Summer Day? After a day-long stroll through the fields, several lines observing a grasshopper, deep questions about who made the world and the creatures in it and what is prayer, the poem ends with the following question:
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
That ‘s something to think about. I like the idea of life being wild and precious. Everyone should give that question some thought. What will I do with my wild and precious life?
This poem also captures the possibility that someone could spend an entire day “strolling through fields” and observing nature. When I began working in land conservation 17 years ago after working as a corporate attorney for the previous 15 years, my husband (a very hard-working and dedicated high school biology teacher) often”joked” that it must be fun to spend my days “traipsing through meadows.” It was his way of pointing out that his job was much more demanding than mine and although I’ve never actually conceded that point to him, I suppose it might be true. But I don’t get my summers off and I rarely traipse through meadows. (Well, okay, maybe four or five times a year I traipse through meadows but meadows have ticks. It’s not all fun and games out there you know!)
I love to observe nature (ticks, snakes and especially spiders) and I appreciate the chance to spend more time working outdoors than I did for the first 15 years of my career. So you’d think this nature poem would be easy – plenty of material to choose from. But thinking that I SHOULD be able to write a good nature poem is precisely what has made this poem one day late (and not really great.) But here it is:
Colors of Early Spring
An early blue iris on a slender green stalk,
A lone yellow tulip beside my front walk.
White dogwood blossoms appear from nowhere,
Dancing and swaying, suspended, mid-air.
Inaptly named redbud’s brown slender stem,
Sends forth purple blossoms, as if on a whim.
The iridescent back of a shiny black crow,
Glistens and glimmers as he struts to and fro.
Up close and afar in myriad shades of green,
There’s a masterwork of wonder, waiting to be seen.
© 2017 Kalen Kingsbury