I have been watching this stump of a grand tree, one I think of as "the throne", over many years, as it sinks slowly into the ground, its disintegration adding nutrients to the forest soil.
The rounded forms of puffball mushrooms are gone, leaving behind the rich purple spores which will blow like a fine dust across the grass, a promise of spreading life.
At the cemetery where my father is buried, the graves of my grandparents tell a story of family and memory. It was strange and beautiful to see my own name on a memorial stone; I am honored to be named after my father's mother. I don't believe in either an afterlife or in reincarnation, but I know that we keep people alive in our hearts and minds. In his late novel, Death With Interruptions, José Saramago imagines a country in which death for humans has ceased. After the initial elation, the grim reality of the situation becomes evident. But death, in the end, is vanquished by love, and by art. We also carry within us what we've learned from our forebears. The most beautiful saying I heard last week was from the Mishnah, read by my brother in law as exemplary of my father's life: "Who is rich? he who is happy with his portion." If my way of being in the world is being satisfied, and taking pleasure in small things, it is something my father taught me, his most precious gift.
Yesterday I saw this beautiful darner on my front door. It stayed remarkably still long enough for me to take several pictures of it. When I posted the photo on facebook, I got several comments from friends telling me that visits from dragonflies were auspicious. This, from David Forlano, especially touched me:
It is a common thing that the animals and insects and even blooming flowers out of season are a visit from a recent lost loved one.My pragmatic nature makes me want to doubt this, but I have never seen this particular insect before, and I had another uncanny experience after my father's death, making me believe that life and death are more of a mystery than I could ever have imagined.