May 26 • 07:46 PM

'Wild and precious life...'

June 28, 2017
It's a glorious summer day. The kind of day where no one would dare ever question why anyone would choose to live in Michigan. The kind of day that makes the Great Lakes State's seemingly endless, frigid steel gray days worth enduring. The cornflower blue sky with the fat, puffy clouds found only on the rare peninsulas highlighted with the powerful golden glow of the summer sun put Old Man Winter in the deep freeze in the shadows of the mind.

There's not one shred of humidity in the air—a rare occasion when the temperatures are in the 80s. And though the mercury is near the top of the thermometer on the side of the barn, the flowing canopy of dancing leaves brings goosebumps on my arms in the shade.

The dappled light flickers and flashes through the leaves, making patterns that sway two and fro across the landscape. I find a spot to sit and take in the light show—Mother Nature's very own strobe.

This is the kind of summer day where describing it with fussy, seldom used words 'splendid' or 'dazzling' wouldn't be too off the mark. And they'd be totally in context, not manufactured for a Hollywood script or a high brow greeting.

It's a stretch for me to think of anything better than this. The wind's gentle breath waxes and wanes, breathing the glory of all the earth's gifts into my being, feeding each cell and molecule. It whispers 'you are part of all of this, we are all connected,' and in a moment like this, I own that truth on a deep level. Mother Nature, the Divine, the Creator, the order of things, the grand diversity and inevitability of science are all converging to remind me that there are miracles everywhere.

On this summer day I think there's nothing better I could or should do than to bow down to all of it, to revel in the wonder, to question nothing and to be grateful for everything. And so I do. And so I am.

I think of the poem by Mary Oliver. I've recited it in my yoga classes last week, having searched it out as a way to acknowledge the summer solstice—the longest day of the year. The magic of the universe amplified. The ancient, venerable specificity of the subtle motion of our great Mother Earth rotating on its axis.

Such a brilliant poem shouldn't be confined to the classroom, or the pages of a book, and I feel there's no better time to share it with you:

The Summer Day

By Mary Oliver

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean--

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down --

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don't know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life?

Email Catherine at

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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