A Moment of Clarity

snow capped birds nest among tree branchesOccasionally in life we are blessed with a moment of clarity, an instant of insight when suddenly we know something with unquestioning certainty. These moments have the potential to change us forever, to change the way we see the world, and to change our role in it. I had such a moment today.

I was out back taking care of the morning CowChows chores, and as I was trudging along the snow packed path I looked up and noticed a bird’s nest in a tree. It was nearly perfectly camouflaged even now in the dead of winter. Nestled in the bough of a young elm tree its twigs and leaves blended so perfectly that had it not been for the cap of snow on top I might have missed it. Certainly, it had been there all along and I had missed it until now. The tree which held it was itself entangled in the climbing vines of a multiflora rose and I could not imagine how the nest could have been better protected.

As I stood there contemplating this nest and considering the birds who built it I wondered at the process that brought them to make this specific location home. Were they born with an innate instinct, or were they faced with myriad decisions which eventually brought them to this place? As I studied the scene before me and imagined the two birds poring over maps and blueprints I became aware of ice flakes falling about me.

Overnight, a heavy frost had left the CowChows looking as if an expert hand had lightly sprinkled the world with a fine layer of confectioner’s sugar. Now, as the sun shone through for the first time in days and touched upon the upper branches of slumbering trees, these tiny crystals turned loose and wafted gently to the ground. Looking up, I watched them float towards me against a background of clear blue sky and I wondered at how not unlike they are to each of us. Each is unique unto itself and through all of time there will never be any two exactly alike, and yet all share similar characteristics and frailties.

It was while these delicate crystals of ice fell gently upon my face and birdsong carried lightly on the breeze that I experienced that moment of clarity. It came to me not as a thought, but as a fully bloomed flower of knowledge and in that instant I knew without doubt and with unquestioning certainty that, “Damn, it’s still cold out here.”

And I went in the house.