Forest Hill Drive and Guerilla Hollow are closed on Sunday, May 25 due to high winds.

One Hundred Seconds

By volunteer

dwarf crested iris
Dwarf Crested Iris (Iris Cristata)—a native spring ephemeral in the Iridaceae (Iris) family. Found near stream banks. One of my favorite spring flowers. The bright leaves are varied shades of green and are just as beautiful as the flower. To me, the leaves are just as much a trademark of the iris as the flower shape and purple and yellow coloration. Photo: M. Tori

One spring day, I drove to Bernheim from Louisville like I often do when I feel disgruntled, upset, and in need. In need of what? That nurturing loving feeling I get only from being in the natural world…if you know, you know. And if you don’t, rest assured there is a knowing within you. As many of us do, I sometimes feel pulled in so many different directions that it is difficult for me to stay in the present moment wherever I am, let alone justify long stays in nature when I have this, that, and the other to get back to at home. That consistent feeling to get back to the city to do and do and do. On this particular day, I was so craving that love from the planet.

pawpaw flower
Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) tree flower. Also known as the Indiana Banana for its delicious edible fruit produced in fall. It is the only host plant for the Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly, meaning without the Pawpaw, the butterfly would die out. We often think of pretty things like butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds as pollinators—the pawpaw and its unique flower remind us that beauty is easy to appreciate, but that doesn’t mean only beautiful things are valuable. Photo: M. Tori

The magnolia near the front gate had begun to bloom. The Carrie Newcomer song , “The Beautiful Not Yet”, describes so well that itching to get to forest, the creek—whatever spot lights your heart up that way. There is always an eagerness inside me to see the wildflowers blooming on Rock Run trail—yellow trout lily, dwarf crested iris, bloodroot, little, tiny bluets, or Quaker ladies, if you’d rather, dipping their sweet heads toward the ground. Pawpaw beginning to bloom that dark red flower—the smell of rotting meat for carrion beetles and flies to pollinate. The lucky feeling that I have not evolved to smell those rotting pheromones! And also, the wondering and longing to know that smell, too. Later, mayapple—white blossom low underneath, sweet grape-sized fruit to come. I imagine the Eastern box turtle tipping his head up to take a bite—red eye glinting as the light spreads through the tree canopy.

Oh, how I could spend all day there! A lifetime, really. So often I feel pulled away—back to household chores, duty-bound to my relationships with loved ones (and not-so loved ones), work, school, children, parents, grandparents, community, social pressures—the list goes on and on. Funny how in the race to become something, we forgot to quantify stillness as productive. When I am walking on that bountiful trail, I will occasionally feel this pull of the litany of the “To-Do” list that is somewhere beyond this moment. I think of staying for lunch, taking a longer trail, but then, no, I must get back before this or before that.

Mayapple flower
Above, Mayapple in bloom. Photo: M. Tori

On this spring day, I felt myself leaving too early. Having to get back to something. Funny that I can’t even remember what! But, I remember being there at Bernheim. I remember feeling a pull to stay and pressure to leave. As I passed through the threshold of the front gate to go home, I stopped the car and put in it in park. I turned on my flashers, inviting others to go around me because I needed a second. One hundred of them to be exact. I thought to myself, “Maria. Just give yourself one hundred seconds here with this place. Just pause for one hundred seconds, and then you can go.” I began to count to one hundred. All the while looking out at this tree I couldn’t quite identify. Good to know there are things I still don’t know. Trees yet to be discovered. Parts of Myself. Parts of Others. And I sort of felt myself smile as I was counting. How long one hundred seconds can feel when we are so used to racing and racing around. But also, how little it costs us and how much it gives. I would get home virtually no later, but I would carry with me a sense of peacemaking, lovemaking that came from this one hundred seconds of pause. Taking that moment to reflect, breathe—to give myself one hundred seconds of presence of rest, of stillness before the next moment, that was the most valuable practice, and lesson, I gave myself that day. Since then, when I feel pulled in one thousand different directions, I can go outside and look at even just the grass, listen to even just my local songbirds, and count to one hundred and find myself at the center of it all. No one thousand directions. Just being in one single body and moving from within that.

eastern box turtle
Below, Eastern Box Turtle with red eyes. Red eyes indicate the sex of the turtle as being male. Females usually have yellow or orange-ish eyes. They enjoy the fruit of the mayapples as a tasty treat—it perfectly positioned for their enjoyment!

It is easy to forget ourselves in the hustle and bustle. And in forgetting ourselves it is easy to abandon our home in the natural world, caught up in the spinning of our human lives—separated from being.

Bernheim entrance surrounded by blooming magnolias in springHopefully, in offering ourselves one hundred seconds in moments when we feel pressure to race—in moments of transition and times where we feel we have no time to be still, we will begin to open to the practice of holding space for one hundred minutes in a place like Bernheim or even in our own backyard. We will recognize that we too have a choice in the matter, even when it feels we have none. The turtle is driven by only his knowledge of what it is to be him. And the same for all those beautiful wildflowers. What a gift that we can choose the knowledge of what it is to be us, if even for just one hundred seconds at a time.

-Maria Tori, Volunteer Naturalist


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