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The Wonders of a Few Square Feet of Meadow

February 5th, 2012 by Michael Dyet

“Her body moved with the frankness that comes from solitary habits. But solitude is only a human presumption. Every quiet step is thunder to beetle life underfoot; every choice is a world made new for the chosen. All secrets are witnessed.”  ~  Barbara Kingsolver, Prodigal Summer

Hmmm, how much of life do we overlook because we’re preoccupied with… getting where we’re going… glancing over our shoulder for who might be chasing us… looking ten steps ahead for what danger might be waiting there?

The Kingsolver quote at the top of this post is my favourite opening paragraph to a novel. I love it for the eloquence of her language, her gift for turning a phrase and how it so elegantly sets the tone for all that follows.

But it also speaks to how much our state of mind, and our presumptions, colour and even mask what we perceive. We are a self-absorbed species. An inordinate amount of our time is devoted to calculating where we stand in relation to each other. Am I falling behind you, getting too far ahead to keep tabs on you or just plain paying attention to the wrong person?

I find myself less and less inclined to expend my brain power calculating my latitude and longitude relative to the other guy. Admittedly, this is partially because I am one of those somewhat peculiar people who prize solitude. Not every waking moment, of
course. But some of my most soul redeeming and insightful experiences come in solitary moments.

As Kingsolver so eloquently points out, solitude as we think of it relates to the absence of other people. I frequently seek out the solitude of a woodland path, a serene meadow or a murmuring creek. I get rather perturbed if a chattering group of hikers disturbs my quiet communion with nature.

But I am far from alone at those moments. I am, in fact, recalibrating my senses to the frequency of other living things. I am most at peace when I am in tune with “the beetle life underfoot”.

Peering through my binoculars at a tiny skipper (think very small butterfly) takes me to a place where the concerns of day to day life fade away. I can become wonderfully engrossed trying to determine if I can detect the pale spot band of a Crossline Skipper or the glassy white spot on the forewing of a Little Glassywing.

The scale of the world around me changes at these moments. Skyscrapers, multi-lane expressways and Wal-Mart’s the size of football fields become blasé. There are an infinite number of small wonders awaiting me that change my perspective.

I am quite certain that my body moves with a different frankness when I embark upon these odysseys into the wonders of a few square feet of meadow. I only wish I could spend much more time in those explorations.

Solitude is really more of a presence than an absence for me. It is a presence I can only discern when I shut out the busyness, worry and self-consciousness of man-made things. Every tiny marvel of nature becomes a metaphor for sanity. I discover wisdom and
reason there which I’m often hard pressed to find in the things of man’s making.

~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of “Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel” – double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at or the novel online companion at Visit to download a free preview of the e-book version.

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