The black asphalt sizzling in the sun contrasted sharply with the cool, shady green of the leafy oaks by the edge of the road. Around here in July, 105 degrees is pretty mild, and mornings hold no relief. From where I stood, I saw shadows of wings shifting on the ground's rocky surface. Birds were moving in the branches above me.
Then, in a sudden display of tiny opaque wings, hundreds of flying insects rose up in a mass from the ground toward the sky. I wasn't sure what kind they were, but they flew higher and higher, forming a swirling funnel of continuous activity that reached all the way into the lobed green leafage of the oaks.
I stood spellbound for a solid five minutes, and the funnel of bugs never ceased. Curiosity took over, so I moved closer. Hundreds more insects on the ground were crawling over each other for their turn at lift-off. I wasn't the only one watching: three blue jays next to me were as fascinated as I, only I had already eaten my breakfast, and they were just enjoying theirs.
Then I looked up. The dark gray shadows that were cast on the ground took on color. Blue wings and the light gray bellies of more blue jays were scooping and diving after the flying funnel. And dragonflies, too. It must have been potluck to the nth degree. Nature in action.
I went home and called my entomologist friend. Flying ants, he said. Right time of year for the mating ritual. Do the dance, mate, come back to earth, males die, females form the new colony. That's fair in the insect world.
That morning started my insect education. Nature can teach you pretty much anything you need to know: just watch and listen.
Ants are social insects that live in large communities, working for the good of the colony. These colonies consist of one or two queens, many workers, and soldiers who guard and protect the nests. Ants are industrious, disciplined, patient, and skilled at building and organizing. As an omen, Ant can signal the start of a busy period in your life. A project, artistic endeavor, career, or relationship may begin to move forward. Remember to stay centered and focused on what is coming into being. Patience, and learning patience, will be interwoven into this forward movement-patience with ourselves and others we meet along our way.
Patience can be defined as the will or ability to wait or endure without complaint. So it's not only being patient that applies here, it's also the ability to be so without voicing displeasure or annoyance.
By learning about the right way to handle busy periods in our lives, we also learn how to extend that out into our community and the world at large. Look to Ant and his discipline and patience as the example to follow.
Early morning by the creek. I pause and watch, munching on a handful of breakfast cereal, its taste sweet in my mouth. Something slowly moving upstream arouses my curiosity, and feelings of a surreal nature slip through me. Otter or raccoon?
Wrong on both counts. A large adult beaver flips over onto its back to watch me watching it as it paddles by. I notice a silver-dollar-sized chunk gone out of its tail. Must have had a tangle with something. The beaver continues its foray up the creek, one eye keeping me in sight. I watch in total amazement: this is my first beaver sighting along my edge of the world. Then it's gone, higher up the creek.
Later in the day I share this advent with some old canyon friends.
"Beaver on Little Butte Creek? Yeah, right." Last sighting was thirty years ago.
A few months later: another sighting. I feel validation.
Five years later: willow trees on the bank start to disappear. Another year passes, and more trees fall. You can hear their incisors cutting through the trunks at night. Crash! Dogs bark. My friends are back in full force, building their home.
I am, too. We're busy creatures.
Beavers are large rodents with chisel-like teeth, webbed hind feet, and flat broad tails. They are skilled at building dams out of mud and twigs, making their homes along rivers and creeks.
Beavers work as a team as they fell trees and construct their homes. This reflects the ability to work together to achieve an end, recognizing that not all things can or should be done alone. Sometimes you need to divvy up the workload.
If Beaver swims your way, stop and ask yourself if you have been keeping distance between yourself and the people in your life who might be able to help you out in a situation, find a solution to a problem, or just be there to offer emotional support. If you've been playing the recluse, now is the time to integrate back into society, to turn back to those who love and support you-your friends and family.
Beaver is telling you that there is time for solitude and time to share the power of living. Now is the time to share.