The Wind, The Borders, The Cardinals, and Bob Marley


This morning is the first firing of spring’s azaleas. It’s the first morning they’ve all opened their kimonos, exposed pistil and stamen. “Come hither,” they call to the yellow and black darts, the excited bumble bees. Even nature’s exhibitionists are constrained by certain laws, though, the azaleas kept within their flowerbed prisons, weed killed flowerbeds where things are mostly planned. One bed is covered with pea-pebbles, another with glass beads, another with succulent ground cover. Each is ordered.

The roads cut our county into towns, towns into school districts, school districts into neighborhoods, neighborhoods into lots. On some lots, the dandelion tufts fluff up and sway like albino afros. Their better halves, the flowering dandelions, cower beneath their male counterparts. The dandelion heads respect the wind, lift and loose where led, that is, if they are blown before being constrained by the lawnmower or a hard dose of Rroundup.

This morning I saw Cardinal in my neighbor’s tree. He was like one of those Azalea, a cherry red Corvette of a bird. He and Robin mocked each other, Robin taking breaks to look for worms under the dandelion skirt. Robin was no respecter of privacy, or of nut-crunching either. He told Cardinal so, whistled a harsh, “buzz off.” There are worms to catch this early in the morning, he said.

Cardinal relocated on the breeze.


On the way to work, I pulled behind a man driving a Toyota 4Runner. Winn Collier once told me he saw me as a 4Runner kind of guy. I took that to mean that he saw me as more of a kayaker than as a visionary, a thought-leader, someone full of “trending energy.” (What is “trending energy,” anyway?) I have had a soft spot in my heart for 4Runners ever since.

This particular vehicle wore a magnetic decal of Bob Marley, left foot rising in a reggae stomp. It is for freedom that Bob dances, I reckoned, and the machine wore him as an alternate metaphor, a small picket-sign against sitting in a parking lot from 8:30 to 6:00. The 4Runner pulled into the parking lot on the left. It was an analytics office, a place where men constrain themselves to numbers, formulas, and computer-generated models. The 4Runner coughed, sputtered from its black lung as it entered the parking lot.

The smell of spent exhaust came through my air conditioner vents. “Time for an oil change,” I thought.


The church office was filling with cars this morning. The staff pulled past the twin pink tulip trees, past the lone redbud. They didn’t stop, curtsy, or tip hats to the better parts of God’s beauty. Instead, they plowed on into the fields. The fields, after all, are white with harvest.


The wind is no respecter of our counties, towns, school districts, neighborhoods, or lots. Unconstrained, it waits only for us to catch it.

If only we would.

*Photo by Vvillamon, Creative Commons, via Flickr.

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  • i like this very much

    • sethhaines

      Thank you, sis. Amber and I hope to see you soon. We’ll kill the fatted calf.

  • J.Ray

    And it blows on the just and the unjust, the aware, the semi-aware and the numb. The bee is drunk with a thousand burning bushes, everywhere is holy ground.

    • sethhaines

      Yes, J. Ray. Yes it does.

  • Lynn Morrissey

    This is beautiful and powerful, Seth, and leaves me quite introspective. I revel in the revelatory nature of Nature along with you. Your exquisite exhibitionist thoughts here remind me of my unabashedly exhibitionist ash tree about which I wrote last year: “A gust of wind tempts the ash tree to shed her leaves. She can’t resist, and a cascade of sun-shot gold showers around her, a pooling lamé peignoir, a sudden denuding, a complete surrender. I’m undone.” And God leaves us undone if we allow the fresh wind of His Spirit to blow through us–clean through us–stripping us of all that needs relinquishing, all to which we so needless cling. Thank you so much for sharing. You’re so gifted. You’re also very funny. I saw your video at the Jumping Tandem retreat: the one you made when you SHOULD HAVE BEEN DRIVING!!! 🙂

    • sethhaines

      First, thank you for sharing your words. The imagery is stunning. And yes as to the wind. Freedom, too.

      As for my video at JT. Who knew that LJ would plaster me all up on a big screen? Not I, said the fly. Very surprising (and awkward, too.) 🙂

  • kevin still

    My car needs an oil change, too.

    • sethhaines

      You should head up this way and we can see whether we can get a 2 for 1 somewhere.

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