The View at Longmeadow
I’m standing at the large, south-facing window in our shrine room practicing Chi Kung. The distant mountains are obscured by falling snow, but in the field gentle flakes drift lazily from a gunmetal sky. I stand in Wu Chi and slowly begin the practice known as the Eight Pieces of Brocade. As I breathe through the movements, four dark spots appear on the far end of the snow-covered meadow. Then, evenly spaced, a dozen or so turkeys crest the brow of the lower field. Like a feathered armada they hove into view growing ever larger as they climb toward the house. As I turn my head from left to right Drawing the Bow, they approach in a loose formation, strutting and pecking, their tiny heads and large bodies moving in syncopated rhythm headed for the bird feeders in the back yard.
In other seasons, I practice overlooking a riot of bright dandelions or an impossibly green field of meadow grass or the glitter of first frost. At times, the rain falls in sheets, puddling in the dips and divots from the farmer’s haying machines. Sometimes, the wellhead on the front lawn is surrounded by the tall stems and purple flowers of a plant my friend gave me and provides cover to a little brown sparrow in its never-ending search for food. Today, the wellhead wears a fez of powdery snow on its top and a collar of dried stems at its base.
One late November day, the field was host to a murder of crows. The birds had been active for days, wheeling and barking overhead in ever increasing numbers. Now, they were scattered over the field, poking in the dead grass, and enjoying the largess provided by the farmer’s recent visit with the honey wagon. Presumably, this was their last supper before the great departure as the crows are now gone from their usual haunts in the nearby evergreens.
The deer are scarce these days, too, but when they get hungry enough, they’ll return in twilight to nibble the young trees in our side yard. As soon as the meadow grass sprouts in spring, they’ll arrive at dusk, usually a doe with a fawn and yearling in tow. Her ears will search the air for sounds while the fawn gambols in the open green space and the yearling crops the new grass.
It is recommended that Chi Kung be practiced outside. Under the spreading shade of a leafy tree with one’s feet firmly on the ground, the practitioner has access to fresh air, the earth’s vast power and the energy of the living being under which she shelters. Sounds great, right? But here’s the thing; this is Vermont. Chi Kung outside is possible, but even in summer there are drawbacks. Ticks come to mind. And then it’s winter and, well, you see the problem.
So, I stand in Wu Chi in front of the window wearing thick wool socks and fingerless gloves, the space heater on high. My soft gaze rests on the long meadow and distant mountains as I unwind the Eight Pieces of Brocade, nourished by the beauty and energy of the shifting landscape.