Hi friends,

The ratskin bracelet is resting peacefully under the fig tree in the front yard next to the blossoming lilac and in other good company, back in the flow of the life of the world.

Nothing has happened lately with the tree parts in the backyard.

A story about a squirrel

Right before the Covid lockdown began we strung two rows of peace flags (that’s what we call them) on our deck. Officially known as Tibetan prayer flags, they are the lines of colorful triangles you see bedecking the landscape in Himalayan scenes. One set I had brought home from Nepal in 2005 after I had gone there to plan a biological survey. The survey was being funded by Disney as part of their launch of a new ride — Expedition Everest — and while documenting plants and animals during the survey we were also to keep our eyes open for any possible signs of Yeti. One set I had purchased just outside of Mount Rainier several years later at the same Nepalese shop where I found my joy-sparking red snow hat.

Just before the Covid lockdown, coincidentally I think, I had asked Dave to help me figure out a way to put them outside. They are meant to be moved by the wind and, in their movement, to spread compassion to the surrounding area. They have been outside doing just that for the past two years and had started to wear thin.

Dave and I were sitting on the deck, on a Saturday, discussing what to do with the disintegrating flags. Out of respect you are not supposed to let the flags touch the ground, and certainly they should not go in the trash. When they have finished their good work they are to be either burned or buried. I declared my intention to bury the flags and we agreed we would like to replace them, but weren’t sure of an appropriate source.

Two days after this conversation I was standing in the kitchen by the window. Noticing movement, I looked towards the flags and saw the line was broken. Then I saw the squirrel. She was holding a bit of the line with about five flags trailing behind. I stood very still. She took her front paws and gathered one flag into a ball under her chin. She kept working until all five were a large ball. Leaping onto the still leafless maple tree, she kept her balance while holding tightly to the ball of flags. She ascended carefully to her hole and disappeared into what must be a spacious cavity. Moments later she reappeared, flag-free.

The next day more of the flags were missing. By the end of the week, it was as if the flags had never been there at all. A few bits of string are all that remain. 

It has been a remarkably cold spring. I love that there is one cozy squirrel living in a maple tree that, through no plan of mine, is continuing to spread compassion throughout the ravine.

In other news

Sam continues to love dancing to songs by Journey. Maggie wants a drum set.

I think soon The Hearthling will become a newsletter on Substack. I wonder what I am doing and I love writing it.

Tolkien, continued

‘Yes, I am with you, Master,’ said Sam, laying Frodo’s wounded hand gently to his breast. ‘And you’re with me. And the journey’s finished. But after coming all that way I don’t want to give up yet. It’s not like me, somehow, if you understand.’

‘Maybe not, Sam,’ said Frodo; ‘but it’s like things are in the world. Hopes fail. An end comes. We have only a little time to wait now. We are lost in ruin and downfall, and there is no escape.’

‘Well, Master, we could at least go further from this dangerous place here, from this Crack of Doom, if that’s it’s name. Now couldn’t we? Come, Mr. Frodo, let’s go down the path at any rate!’


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