Friday, April 26, 2013

Take Heart

"Why are the woods so alluring? A forest appears
to a young girl one morning as she combs
the dreams out of   her hair. The trees rustle
and whisper, shimmer and hiss. The forest
opens and closes, a door loose on its hinges,
banging in a strong wind. Everything in the dim
kitchen: the basin, the jug, the skillet, the churn,
snickers scornfully. In this way a maiden
is driven toward the dangers of a forest,
but the forest is our subject, not this young girl.

"She’s glad to lie down with trees towering all around.
A certain euphoria sets in. She feels molecular,
bedeviled, senses someone gently pulling her hair,
tingles with kisses she won’t receive for years.
Three felled trees, a sort of chorus, narrate
her thoughts, or rather channel theirs through her,
or rather subject her to their peculiar verbal
restlessness ...    our deepening need for non-being intones
the largest and most decayed tree, mid-sentence.
I’m not one of you squeaks the shattered sapling,

"blackened by lightning. Their words become metallic
spangles shivering the air. Will I forget the way home?
the third blurts. Why do I feel like I’m hiding in a giant’s nostril?
the oldest prone pine wants to know. Are we being   freed
from matter? the sapling asks. Insects are well-intentioned,
offers the third tree, by way of consolation. Will it grow
impossible to think a thought through to its end? gasps the sapling,
adding in a panicky voice, I’m becoming spongy! The girl
feels her hands attach to some distant body. She rises
to leave, relieved these trees are not talking about her."

 - Amy Gerstler, Bon Courage

At left, partly obscured by a corner, is the old dark brown metal back door leading from the backyard to our master bedroom. 

Pictured below that - to  match the orchids in the top picture now blooming outside the door -  is the entrance to the master bedroom that I’ve finally finished repainting.

Now all that’s left is the pond with a final leak to mend before we can resume the filtering and endure the algae cycle as it becomes balanced; and the rock garden ready to be planted with the new stuff now waiting impatiently in pots; and the raised beds waiting for their new borders to be made out of repurposed wood from the old trellis; and the sprinkler system to be mended so the thyme that is currently paused by drought can resume its creeping, and the low-voltage lighting to be replaced and tuned up.

Way back in my back yard, behind an old shed and a big rock and beneath a looming California pepper tree, are the remnants of a crude a woodpile. Years ago, the large pine tree in the center of my yard lost the top 1/3 of it’s crown to drought pests and pine tip moths. The 20” diameter trunk toppled over smashing flower pots and sprawling across the pond and vegetable garden. The tree crew chopped the trunk into slices about 20” tall and tossed them loosely on the spot where they have remained pretty much undisturbed.

Some of the smaller branches made it from the woodpile to the fireplace, back in the day when we still had fires. Over the years I’ve used a dozen or so of the larger slices to edge new planting beds. The rest of the pieces gradually settled themselves down as pepper tree leaves slowly sifted a blanket down on them, smoothing out their individual shapes. Termites from the canyon behind the fence drift up on the breezes from season to season, helping entropy return the wood to what has become a rounded mound of wood mulch and leaf dust.

While I often think of my plants as living entities that I can chat with, it has never occurred to me to attempt communication with my dissolving woodpile. I certainly never considered that the woodpile could have a deepening need for non-being, although it’s clearly headed in that direction. I wonder if the spongy blocks of wood talk about me. 


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Martha in Michigan said...

I LOVE the new look outside your bedroom! Wish I could muster half your energy and a third of your creativity. There is always so much to do! While I do appreciate the fruits of my labors outdoors, I have been behind the power curve since the Big Dig. I may never catch up, alas.