Swamp Walk of the Mind   Leave a comment

“To love a swamp, however, is to love what is muted and marginal, what exists in the shadows, what shoulders its way out of mud and scurries along the damp edges of what is most commonly praised. And sometimes its invisibility is a blessing. Swamps and bogs are places of transition and wild growth, breeding grounds, experimental labs where organisms and ideas have the luxury of being out of the spotlight, where the imagination can mutate and mate, send tendrils into and out of the water.”
― Barbara Hurd, Stirring the Mud: On Swamps, Bogs, and Human Imagination

Not too far behind the house is a place I call Hidden Pond. When I first started my woods walks it was in May, not long after the rains of April had cleansed the snow from the ground, I discovered this small swamp hidden by the banks that surrounded it. At the time I thought it was a small pond that would retain water year around. As the spring morphed into summer and summer into fall I saw that it was a small swamp. From being covered with water to being almost dry it was a place that nature had carved out for its own purpose. It is a little small to provide much refuge for the deer but maybe the racoon and possum, the small red fox or the feral cats can find refuge from their natural predators. Whatever the reason, it is there, it exists.

It reminds me of my mind. As I grow it changes. Some of the things that were so important to me 50. 40 or even 10 years ago have lost their substance, much like the swamp loses its water during the year. There are dreams that have crashed like the fallen trees that lie half-submerged in the water and the mud. But…

But… I love that word because it means something is coming that may change what has been said, done or dreamed. But…

But like the swamp my mind still lives and breathes, dreams and hopes. In the swamp the fallen tree provides a place for small animals to hide. In the swamp the dense growth of bushes provides buds and leaves for the deer to feed on. The swamp is alive, it breathes it is there for a purpose. It provides a place of refuge, of peace and of quiet. It is a place where those that need it can find a place to just get away from whatever bothers them and relax, if only for a short time.

My mind needs the refuge of the swamp as much as it needs the freedom of the meadow. It needs a place to put everything on hold and relax, slow down, meditate.

Do I want to spend a lot of time in that swamp? Of course not. Sometimes it’s like medicine, it has a unpleasant taste or smell, but when I need it – I need it. The time I spend in the swamp gives me back my joy and purpose. Then there are things to do, places to see, people to meet, sunlight to feel, life to enjoy!

But…every now and then, like nature, I need the swamp.


Posted May 5, 2014 by hwilliam in Photography

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