Breathing Spaces

February 21st, 2009

I took this photo during a walk along the canal towpath in D.C. last fall. The water was so still and dark that I felt my soul shimmer in response. These magical places in nature are vanishing so quickly that I fear my grandchildren will be thirsty for spiritual H2O as they grow up. Every day when I drive to work I pass a pond that lies between an office building and a busy four-lane highway. I don’t know how it has escaped being filled in for more brick office fortresses, but somehow it survives–a tantalizing remnant of what this coast used to be. There’s usually a Great Blue Heron and a large white egret wading or simply standing in silent communion by the edge of the water. I look forward to it every day — it helps make the transition from home to work, work to home easier. I automatically slow down to see if the birds are there, and it puts all my stupid work worries in proper perspective. It’s like looking in one of those Easter egg dioramas and seeing a whole other miniature world inside. It’s a small hidden treasure in a landscape that has been developed in a deranged kind of way–because of course we all need another Comfort Inn or Taco Bell in our lives. As long as the pond survives, it gives me hope for the land, for the future, for the return of two birds to the same spot every morning. Fragile hopes for a big planet.

4 Responses to “Breathing Spaces”

  1. Kerin says:

    This definitely looks like a sacred place. The water does draw one in. And the photo itself seems to have soul.

    It’s so great you have a landmark in which you can find serenity and grounding. Long live the pond!

  2. Kathleen Botsford says:

    I know what you mean. My pet peeve is when they put up a new Starbucks on the first blade of grass that is still empty. I have to say, I am not sorry for all of builders and investors who put up these empty malls, homes and developments in the name of greed and now are losing their butts. My heart breaks for the wild life and our precious planet that will reap the down side for many years to come. Nature WILL out live us and re-stake her claim. It has happened before.

  3. Jane says:

    Echoing what Kathleen said, I moved to where I’m at now because it was a semi-rural, quiet, clean place. During the B-Years, ugly housing, with homes built 8″ apart, overtook every pond, and developers and the city council colluded with each other to force people off of working farms that had been in families for generations. It’s almost like when I come across any peaceful place now I say a little prayer.

  4. Di Mackey says:


    They’re cutting down the small forest behind the apartment here … the chopped down the centre row of trees in the front. I despair too and am presently trying to work out how many bird houses we can buy for the balcony, as those trees were full of birds I had come to love.