Fox poop, a baby sea turtle, and the world connected
Okay, I know this is weird. But a whimsical, scatological example of nature’s incidental artwork has been catching my eye for almost a week now. I had to share this little pile of fox poop (I am guessing fox), on top of an old stump, here on a bright, sun-washed, March evening in Maine.
What does the little poop pile look like to you? The first time I encountered it, I saw a tiny sea turtle. Then I forgot about it, and stumbled upon it again and again. I'd forget, then I'd be struck with the same impression each time anew. Today’s shadows made it even more prominently sea turtle-ish. Am I imagining things?
There are several wonderful things about this passing pile of excrement. First, there's my mental picture of a lovely young fox with a bushy red tail, happily exploring the newly thawed world, rife with exposed vole trails and other promising fare. She took a break from her explorings to hop up onto a nice flat stump and relieve herself. A loo with a view. What finer setting could there be for outdoor voiding? I applaud the fox, and love to picture her contented release.
Also, here on the skirts of the mighty Penobscot River, isn’t it cool to be reminded of other world creatures from faraway, beautiful places? Have you ever seen those videos of sea turtles, their fraught, perilous journey from sand to sea? Their precious vulnerability? Somehow, the leavings of one life form pulled together the world entire for me, here in my back yard.
So I had to write about a pile of poop today.
Though sorrow lingers, I have learned that love is stronger than death. Though my loved one is beyond my sight, I do not despair for I sense my beloved in my heart as a living presence.
-- selection from the Mourner’s Kaddish
As a Unitarian-Universalist, my faith-practice calls me to seek inspiration throughout the world of human experience. A year after my mother died, a Jewish friend told me about the yahrzeit candle, a 24-hour flame that is lit at sunset on the eve of the anniversary of the death of a loved one, especially parents. Today marks seven years since I lost my mom, and the daylong candle remains one of my favorite ways to quietly pay tribute to my mom, to my lingering sorrow, and to my gratitude for having had such an extraordinary person to love me for almost fifty-four years.
March 15th carries an additional weight of import that I didn’t recognize for several months after my mom’s death in 2014. Rachel Field, another woman who has become enormously significant in my life, took her last breath on March 15, 1942. Several years into researching and writing Rachel's biography, the discovery of that shared date shook me, then comforted me, somehow. The Ides of March hold layers of meaning for me that I may never fully understand, but I stop and take notice. I remember not to despair, for I can sense both beloved women in my heart as a living presence.
The hard-pack snow is covered in textures this morning after the wild winds of the last two days. Every bit of tree debris that landed on the icy-hard surface has created its own little bed, a melted-out basin, each in its particular shape – a twig, a pine cone, an acorn, a leaf. I’m wondering if these carbon-based artifacts all contain some kind of inherent warmth, or if they just absorb more warmth from the sun and the atmosphere than their frosty surroundings.
Whatever the source, it feels promising. The patient persistence of life asserts itself against winter’s frozen dormancy. I think there’s a poem in there somewhere…
Robin Clifford Wood is a writer and writing teacher. She lives in central Maine with her husband and dogs, loves to be outdoors, and enjoys ever-expanding horizons through her grown children and their multi-species families.