The lawn that's just been cut wafts with the crisp smell of fresh grass. Blue skies, white clouds, green fields, and azure ocean–though picturesque, I like to walk on this small road for other reasons.
One day, as I was walking on the small path, I lifted my head and saw a cluster of fly-like bugs rushing by. Not long after, I discovered another group! There were many–all flying in the same direction–one after the other. Their physical speed and mental concentration reminded me of soldiers in the military–marching forward as one. That’s when I realized: “Oh! They’re not flies, they’re bees!” At a specific time they all take flight–lifting off the grass–they fly back to the sky-blue hive in my neighbour’s garden.
Spring is when the apple, pear, and cherry blossoms bloom. Their beauty is spellbinding. Often, around these trees are excited bees buzzing as they collect pollen. In a little while–June and July–the peonies will bloom. When they do, the bees become so enthusiastic as if they’ve found treasure! In one large peony there are many bees weaving in and out, engrossed in their collecting as globs of pollen encircle their legs. They rush into the flowers–basking in their joy, lingering, giving their all with passion and vigour as they work. During these times it’s easy to imagine their pink cheeks radiating heat as they eagerly collect pollen. And–they take great pride in their profession! They remind me of people who are passionate about their jobs, and monks and nuns who are passionate about learning the Buddhist scriptures!
At times, I also see rabbits. Sometimes, I notice an entire family of rabbits having a picnic in the corner of the lawn–today, I see a large grey rabbit with little baby rabbits. They usually eat during sunset. But sometimes, they also come out during noon! They like to eat seedlings, so they’re rarely in the middle of the lawn. They calmly sit on the edges–where the trees grow–and nibble.
In uncut grass and flower bushes, you can often hear the chirping and buzzing of little bugs. In the summer, it feels like the sounds of insects never stop. In the days and nights, some are brighter and clearer while others are accompanying instrumentals. Tilt your head and listen. When these sounds combine together, they can definitely be called The Small Creatures Symphony! They sing, in grass and on leaves and though they freely make their own sounds, their distinctive tones combine to form a peculiar piece–nature’s orchestra. I don't know why, but when you listen carefully to this music, you might find that the world is peaceful and serene. Hearts grow calm, perhaps gratitude rises, and maybe some even feel touched.
Hay sticks, pointy dandelion greens, any tree leaves, even fallen flowers, can be tools to help the little lives on the road speed up their crawling. I think just as people choose cars or boats to travel, these little critters choose to crawl. In some ways, their crawling is like our walking. So, if we can use small transportation tools to help them move more quickly, maybe they won’t be so nervous on the road. But sometimes, if no one is going to be walking by, I let them crawl. I think of it as their marathon. After all, little creatures also need to build their strength. On this road–with no grass to provide cover–they train and bask in the warm sunshine.
There are so many wildflowers in Prince Edward Island. From spring to summer to fall, wildflowers endlessly bloom, and different flowers bloom at different times. Of course, spring welcomes a sea of yellow dandelions. Later it transforms into the pink-purple world of the lupines, and still later into a plethora of colours belonging to various wild flowers. There is also a pink flower called the lady slipper that blooms in the woods–the Island’s provincial flower. There is another kind of flower that blooms by the roadside in my hometown in the north–we call them steamed bun flowers1. They are yellow, white, and blue, and they’re very beautiful. One stem has more than ten little flowers, and the petals and stamens are different colours. In the fall, there’s another kind of yellow flower that blooms, growing whispilly one after another. As the wind blows when the flowers, pine trees and green grasses line the road, it’s hard to not stop and marvel at them all, in all of their vibrant dimensions.
Sometimes as I’m walking, I’ll suddenly hear a "thump!" Usually, it’ll be an apple that’s fallen on the other side of the lawn. If I’m with my dog, he’ll run over immediately and sniff the fallen apple–then he’ll put it in his mouth. If he’s feeling feisty, he’ll lie on the grass and start eating. But most of the time he keeps the apple in his mouth–sometimes taking a few steps–before leaving it on the grass because these apples in particular are kind of sour!
Apples grow easily on the Island, most of them wild. Some wild apples are actually very sweet. The small ones, holding them in your hand to sniff, are very fragrant and sweet. If you place one on your bedside table, the smell can last for many days. I once brought some of the fresh apples I picked to my friends visiting the Island. Though the apples were not much to look at, when they smelled them their faces broke into smiles, and they exclaimed: “Oh! They smell so good! Such fragrant apples!” And, because they’re wild, they’re pesticide free!
I walked very carefully, as if with every step I could land on a mine. This made every walk very exhausting, until slowly, slowly, I learned to weave around the little lives. My feet learned to avoid them, my eyes learned to see them from a distance so that with one quick glance I noticed where they were. And sometimes, I could help them! Though most of the time, they added lots of delight to my exercise–I could observe them, wonder what they were thinking, and what they wanted to do. Or I could send them prayers of refuge, or recite them the Heart Sutra.
In my heart, I earnestly pray: “Take refuge in the guru, take refuge in the Buddha, take refuge in the dharma, take refuge in the sangha...” With my eyes, I watch them as they fly away from the commotions of the world, as they fly into the distance.
2nd Edition @Jul 2022. Translated by Amrita Translation Foundation
Translator: Kacy Lin
Editors: Ven. Heather, Ven. Sabrina, Ven. Joanna, Ven. Elena, Ven. Sonia, Ven. Tina, Lori Wu, Jingli Wang