It’s been at least a year now since I started discussing a septic system with Dan, the local contractor. There were many hurdles to cross: an engineering report, Dan’s own backlog of work, the county taking its time to approve a permit. Somewhere in there I let myself forget about it, lulled into thinking it would happen in some distant future, when it wouldn’t affect me.
But Dan came by last week to tell me they were starting up the next day. I tried to get him to hold off, at least until summer was over, when the thistles in the side yard had stopped flowering and the pine siskins weren’t pulling out shreds of seeds, when the hummingbirds were gone and wouldn’t be disturbed by all the noise, when autumn had reclaimed the land from the grasses and flowers, when I wouldn’t be up here at much, enjoying these last few days of summer.
But schedules are meant to be kept. I was slotted into the county’s and Dan’s time frame. The best I could do would be to disappear during parts of the day when activity was greatest: to Lily Lake for kayaking; dinner with friends; a long hike in the park. But every time I returned, I was greeted with chaos: my serene cabin life literally uprooted—aspen trees pulled out, grasses and flowers smashed by the larger-than-life bulldozer, the thistles run over and the pine siskins retreating to the back yard, looking and sounding a bit lost.
I think of the cabin as my fortress, the place where I can barricade myself in peace and quiet, but I had been invaded. Even when the bulldozer wasn’t digging 10 feet away from the window where I like to gaze out while working, there were people constantly underfoot: Dan, the engineer, the electrician, people looking for Dan.
In the first few days I wanted to block the whole mess from my vision, which isn’t easy when the bulldozer is almost bigger than the cabin. But my meditation practice teaches me to enfold everything into my practice, to not leave out the ugly, the disturbing, what I don’t want to see. So gradually I included into my reality this now barren side yard, the concrete underground tank and the very large hole. I let it be there.
When the bulldozer was quiet, I watched the animals explore this new being. A rabbit found shelter in the shade of its wheels, while juncos and sparrows poked through the furrowed blades looking for insects, and hummingbirds perched on its large yellow arm. Yesterday there was a field of grass and flowers; today there’s a large new hulking structure; that’s life.
When we had first talked about the project I had asked Dan to try to save the aspens that acted as a visual barrier between me and my neighbors. By the last day, when he came to cover up the hole, I had accepted the process enough that I had to smile as I watched him carefully avoid knocking down the trees, the huge treads just inches from one small aspen.
Today, the bulldozer is gone, and quiet has once again descended. Outside my window is a huge vacant patch of land that I need to heal. Fortunately, it’s the time of year when many of the grasses and flowers have gone to seed. I’ll go out in the meadows around Meeker Park, collect the seeds and lovingly scatter them across the barren dirt. In a few months, the snow will cover this wound. Maybe next spring some of the grasses will come up; in two years I may have a full lush, small meadow. Everything grows slowly here. I will learn to be patient and accepting.