…salamanders are signs of ecological health…not a canary in the coal mine, warning of death, but a reptile bestowing a five-star rating of life on our orchard…yesterday we discovered that one of these had taken up residence in a pond that we had had dug in 2010…just another resident that proclaims that this is as it should be along side of…whitetail deer
…a dozen varieties of birds
(including cedar waxwings by the hundreds upon hundreds)
…and insect animals beyond my imagination
…a cacophony of chorus-voices arising from our orchard
Mists of damp heat rise up out of the fields around the sleeping abbey. The whole valley is flooded with moonlight and I can count the southern hills beyond the watertank, and almost number the trees of the forest to the north. Now the huge chorus of living beings rises up out of the world beneath my feet: life singing in the watercourses, throbbing in the creeks and the fields and the trees, choirs of millions and millions of jumping and flying and creeping things. I lay the clock upon the belfry ledge and pray cross-legged with my back against the tower, and face the same unanswered question. Lord God of this great night: do You see the woods? Do You hear the rumor of their loneliness? Do you behold their secrecy? Do You remember their solitudes? Do You see that my soul is beginning to dissolve like wax within me?
– Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas, ‘Fire Watch’