The Quail Diaries: Part 2

13 08 2008

We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire
. (T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets)

I don’t pretend to understand it. That single curved branch, blackened.

The quail were out today, again. Devlin keeps asking why I like to catch and watch quail. I try to explain, but it is not easy. It is intellectual and something else. Two today, my god they are beautiful.

Sabbaṃ bhikkhave ādittaṃ
(Bhikkus, all is burning, Buddha, The Fire Sermon)

And all is and all.

I wandered down the path into the heart of where the fire burned. The fire burned differently in different places (hotter here not as hot there) and burned different materials in different ways, into different shapes. Certain plants fell into ash, others burned black but held strong. Glass shattered and stones turned black. Shoes were eaten away, cans seared, and that one cactus swelled and dessicated, leaving a ball on the ground.

The experience of coming onto the site to start up field work just after the burn is a strange one. In the searching for quail and setting of traps, and in wandering around the fire, I feel transported in a way. I am something else, something more able to absorb–more open–I hate to say it but, I am a “Transparent Eyeball!”

All is Aflame. The Eye is Aflame
(Buddha, Fire Sermon)

But as Buddha and the neurobiologists tell me, I know I am not really absorbing in the way Emerson thought one might. My vision is obscured. But it feels like a closer contact when I am out there and focused. I feel the hold, the control, the connection, slip away. It is the way in the field and the way when I write. Which is possibly why both seem almost necessary.




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