Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Scourge of Seeds

When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
     but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."  
(Mary Oliver)

There are few things more wondrous than a tree in Springtime, when it seems to move without moving, to grow and change in the span of an eye-blink. They are living statues, rejoicing so obviously under the tender ministrations and delicate kisses of the new sun. They speak a language only understood by the birds and flowers and insects, and yet one needs only gaze upon them and listen for a few moments to learn the melody they sing so surely with their silent voices. While Duncan tends to walk with his nose and eyes to the ground, my gaze is pointed up, at the dancing tendrils of the willows, at the slowly blooming Russian Olives, at the Linden outside my window that will transform entirely my apartment in a few short weeks. I am in awe of the trees––all trees!––even the scourge of Narrow Leaf Cottonwoods that plague my small corner of the world.

I do not hate them. These cottonwoods, different than the more common Eastern Cottonwood that most people easily recognize, are wonders of Summer, reflecting the light in a way that freckles the world in gold and shade and dancing green shadows, cooling The Run on our afternoon walks. They are never still, even when the air is, and the sound of their leaves brushing against each other are as sweet as the soft twinkling of the chimes that grace my patio. They don't grow as tall as their eastern cousin, and their cotton is fine and beautiful and something I marvel at and don't mind at all. In Autumn they are magnificent, their voices loud, their presence soothing as the leaves turn pale yellow and then fall away where they can dance wild and run in the wind. They are the sentinels of winter, standing guard over the park and The Glen, their pale, rough bark catching the snow and holding it close like a drapery of loose gauze. It is only in Spring that they are a challenge.

It's their seeds I loathe. They are everywhere, impossible to avoid: lurking among the tall grass, polluting the sidewalks as thickly as the spattering of goose-droppings we dodge in winter. They are thorough in their infection of both The Glen and the park. Long and yellow, the seeds are covered in a thick and sickeningly sweet resin that catch the hair of Duncan's feet and collect into a sticky clot under his soft pads. Dunc spends much of our walks laying down to nibble at his feet, pulling on them, tearing the fur from his feet and then sputtering to spit them away before they catch in his whiskers and collect along his muzzle. And once he's done, his belly is covered in the things, which, if left untended, turn into twisted mats that need to be cut away. They are miserable, contagious things and I look forward to the day they have dried up and been carried away by the wind.

They are a nuisance, but only temporarily. In a few weeks they will be gone and the trees where they originated will be more glorious than before. Until that day, though, when they snow magic and bring a warm winter, Duncan and I will tread carefully and await the return of our Lindens and glorious-scented Russian Olives.


Robert said...

Interesting. I take it all back. Those do look like trouble.

And the verse at the beginning? Wonderful.

In an instant I was spinning circles in the drooping tendrils of the 20 year old(!) weeping willow standing firm like a cornerstone in my grandmother's front lawn. It had a wide low crotch, more than roomy for young boys to stretch out and listen to the breeze whisper to the birds in the mulberry trees next door.

Max Mom said...

Hey there Curt,
Beautiful post!
(I love that 3rd verse - really made me 'stay awhile'). You've got me thinking...I wonder what the trees would say about us?
You write beautifully, upliftingly (if that is a word) and inspiringly. Thank you for refreshing my Sunday.
With love

Robert said...

Checking in on you; hope all is well.