I was driving country lanes very early this Saturday morning and it struck me how many creatures were out on those lanes. Really, every few feet there was something…several pairs of blackbirds pecking on the tarmac, a squirrel dashing across, many tiny hedgerow birds swooping at windscreen height from one side of the road to another, pigeons taking ill-timed dives from high up in trees, rabbits munching on the grass verges, a couple of pheasants debating whether to cross. It was like being in a scene from Snow White…surrounded as I was yet it was like the sea of wild-life effortlessly parted to make way for me as I progressed; these creatures were working with me while it was obvious I was hardly interrupting their morning at the pace I was driving. You could say, all was harmonious and in balance.
Every creature I met seemed tuned in to me somehow, as though it knew precisely when was a good time to make way for my progress through…yet the feeling was also that they were comfortable leaving it to that very last moment, like they trusted me not to hurt them; they knew it was out of the question even more so than I did, fearing a mis-timed acceleration or blurry morning vision would let me down. They felt tuned into some higher-aspect of me and laugh you may but I’ve found this more and more…that animals hold their footing around me much longer than they used to, daring to stay, not go, as I approach on my walks. Deer, rabbits, little birds, butterflies…all hang around for much longer than they used to when my energy was very different; when I was rushed, preoccupied, maybe a little strident, entitled, heavy footed in my ways. These days, I feel like I am allowed into the secret domain at the heart of the natural world…just a little…getting to see something of the way that it is when no humans are around.
By the return journey, twenty minutes later, there was already a bloodied mass of road-kill on that tarmac, bizarrely juxtaposed with a snow-flurry of pinkish white blossom from above, as though recently scattered over the scene by the saddened trees. It didn’t surprise me; I’d hardly seen a car on my journey to and fro but the one car I did meet came so fast and blind over the top of the crest of the hill that it almost took me out and made me hope that my suddenly increased heart rate was beating out a warning that the creatures further up that lane would heed…
For me, the rest of Nature’s inhabitants continued to duck and dive around in the most coherent way and I became conscious of how I was making effort to be in sync with them, to keep a super-responsive foot on the pedal to adhere to their rhythms, to glide not force my way along that route, to take my time, no rush. It was as though they could sense this about me…that I meant no harm…and so it was as though they worked to incorporate themselves into my rhythm too, meeting me halfway. More than one bird that came down as low as my windscreen (making me startle, hold breath…) in a way that seemed intentional as they so swiftly recalibrated their angle to fly with me, flanked alongside me or just above my sunroof long after it would have been safe for them to swoop back up into trees. I felt included; part of the scene and so very blessed.
All this would be missed on the typical busy rush-hour drive on the different day of the week that I am used to driving along this route. Already, there would be several patches of bloodied tarmac and all the other creatures keeping their distance, tucked away in hedgerows, burrows and trees, invisible to all but the most perceptive eye. A thought came to me of the imagined super-highways of the future, ever faster, slicker, more direct…where will the animals be then, when will we see them? Is this the parting of ways, the point when we envision such a highly technological world of moving so fast, getting to where we think we want to go that its as though we inhabit completely different worlds, other dimensions to each other? Does it have to be this way and do I want this or is this somebody else’s vision of the future?
Suddenly Elen of the Ways was making her presence felt to me yet again; she who walked with woodland creatures wherever she travelled; this female archetype that has been represented by so many of the goddess personas across immeasurable tracts of time…since way before other preoccupations took over, diverting us away from that world into increasing separation from Nature. If we forgot to incorporate that goddess presence into our future then that is why I feel no balance in anything sci-fi has yet to offer me, why I find myself holding such a future at bay with all my might. My future makes room for all of this, including the gentle pace to follow the wending paths of discovery that Nature would always lead me along (and always has). A world without such is no world for me and would be a parting of ways that is quite inconceivable to everything that I am about…
So topical is that my husband just got home and told me that there are two swans currently on the M4 motorway…with two traffic police officers trying to shepherd them off over the verge to safety and all the traffic nearby being forced to slow right down. Yes there is a full moon later today, always something the animals tend to register more readily than many of us (consciously) do but if, like me, its light-seek energy manifests as the urge to speak out about anything that is out of balance, can we assume that Nature is trying to tell us something this morning? It really feels like it is!
Final note According to a study in New Scientist, birds appear to be aware of speed limits on roads…that is, they don’t respond to the actual speed of cars but seem to become acquainted with the speed limit on a certain section of road, as though they regard roads as predators and come regard some as more dangerous as others. Perhaps this is why the country roads where I live are such a high-kill zone, constantly littered with bird and animal carcasses (including deer, badgers, foxes…), since they vacillate wildly between being very quiet back-routes with low traffic and, at other times (depending on pressure on other highways), turn into cut-throughs from one urban area to another and no one around to notice the killer speeds that are being used by many drivers. This really does feel like something that needs attention from conservationists and road planners so that different types of road can maintain their identity (and speed-limit) for the benefit of all.