It has been a wet summer and fall where I live in Southcentral Alaska. So much so, in fact, I think the temperate rainforest that is half an hour away could extend its reach to the west side of the Chugach mountains. My rain boots are more worn down at the heel than usual, but they are still good, and I have fully broken in my GORE-TEX raincoat. It’s like a second skin.
I went outside to put a few things in the garage. It is supposed to be windy tonight. 60 MPH gusts are no joke. If I put things away today, I won’t need to search for cushions that have blown into the creek tomorrow. If I secure what stays outside for the winter, I won’t need to gather storage tub lids that have flown to my neighbor’s yard like little magic carpets when the sun rises. Yes, I have done that before. The searching, that is. Some things never get found.
I walked towards the garden to collect a few tools. The creek that runs through the yard was roaring from the rainfall and the leaves that weren’t already on the ground were flying their fall colors like miniature flags. The smell of wet woods welcomed me. I love that smell and I love the green mosses that carpet the dead tree stumps. I love the mushrooms that offer delight to my eyes. My smile let an exhale escape into the air that was crisp enough to make the moisture visible. I picked up a small shovel from the dirt.
I said hi to my Buddha who lives on top of the largest stump by the garden. He’s only blown off the stump once, but he looked secure today. In fact, he looked very comfortable on his cushioned pedestal adorned with leaves and a few shells from the shores of Sicily. He is a happy Buddha. We bought him in memory of a family friend named Tom who died. Tom always had a large Buddha statue in his yard. It seemed appropriate to remember him this way. Years have passed, and our Buddha has aged from wind, rain, snow, and ice, changing his concrete complexion, but he belongs here. I really like him.
The Miracle Of Nature
I noticed Buddha’s smile. For the first time in over ten years, Buddha’s teeth were green. And not just a tinge of green, but full-on mossy green in the exact outline of his lips. It looked like a painter had visited with a perfect size paintbrush and left his mark. There were other places where moss sprinkled his body like freckles, but it seemed unusual that his mouth held so much moss. Life was literally coming out of his mouth. Not in words, of course, but in life itself. Buddha’s smile is beautiful even with green teeth.
My first urge was to clean it off Buddha’s smile, to brush his gree teeth, so to speak. But I stopped myself. No, I’ll take the reminder. I’ll take the image of life spilling out of his mouth. I’ll take the miracle of nature, reminding me it is really that simple. Life is to be lived fully until it isn’t. And that moss is living in a beautiful smile formation for right now. The wind may rip it away. The frost may loosen its grip. The winter may freeze it to ice. But in this moment, it is alive and well in the shape of a smile.
Buddha’s teeth are green and that just made my day.
…you might also enjoy reading My Velveteen Rabbit