Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Stationary Path

Before I leave, almost without noticing,
before I cross the road and head toward

what I have intentionally postponed—

Let me stop to say a blessing for these woods:
for crows barking and squirrels scampering,
for trees and fungus and multi-colored leaves,

for the way sunlight laces with shadows
through each branch and leaf of tree,
for these paths that take me in,
for these paths that lead me out
(A Blessing for the Woods, Michael S. Glaser)

There are three large trees that grow on the edge of the property between the fence and the street. They are enormous things, perhaps six feet in diameter at the bottom of their gnarled trunks. Quite often Duncan stops at the foot of each and cranes his neck up to catch a glimpse of the countless squirrels which play and lounge and live there. Although they are still naked on top, last week's cold and snow spurred some growth and I don't think it'll be long before the sidewalk and street are bathed in their heavy shade.

It's long been a fantasy of mine to not only live in a tree but to somehow build a village at the top of some mighty wood, like something out of Tolkein or Star Wars. As a child I spent hours reclining under the tall trees on the campus of Idaho State University envisioning tiny people with their tiny roads built across wide boughs and branches winding their way up to the suburban quiet on the edge of the furthest and highest of leaves.

Last Summer Duncan and I lounged in the long grass at their trunks and I lost myself gazing up at them, all those fantasies and memories rushing through my imagination again. Today we stopped for the first time since then. Duncan tends to grow restless if we stop in one place too long, ever eager to sniff and lay claim to new territory, but at the base of a tree he is content, his eyes sweeping every nook and cranny for real and imagined squirrels. I knelt down next to the thick elephant skin bark and studied the ants crawling across the gouged surface, following the lines and ridges like cars traversing the mountain and valley roadways. They are magnificent things, these trees. Following their paths is almost as good as walking, like moving without moving, flying over vast and intricate landscapes from the safety of the ground.

1 comment:

Lori said...

My Ripley used to do that when we'd take him to the cabin on Big Lake up north of Ely. Chase squirrel up tree... stare up into tree for at least 45 minutes. Meanwhile the squirrel, after chittering insultingly at him several times, has run out on a limb and leaped to a nearby tree so many times that he is most likely already in Canada by the time Ripley gave up his vigil. Adorable... but I feel I must also add that he really WAS a very smart dog, despite this evidence to the contrary!