Fascination with Trees

I can’t recall a time when I was not drawn to trees. They amaze me. Day after day they change. Imagine something that grows taller and wider at such incrementally slow pace that it is invisible to the eye.

They also change with the seasons. Some burst into new life when the sun begins to shine in spring. Tiny green buds sprout forth, signaling the wonders that are to come. Those buds become leaves. All kinds of leaves, in all shapes and sizes and colors.

When I was young I collected leaves. I especially loved the ones that fell from maple trees. Such broad leaves! So green in spring and summer, but when fall arrives they morph into shades from red to orange to brown. I loved them all.

I miss maple trees. They grew in the woods behind our house in Ohio, but not here in California. They had the most amazing seed pods! They were shaped like wings and if you tossed them above your head they would twirl down to the ground. I did this over and over, season after season, never growing tired of the display even into my teen years.

Where we lived in Ohio all trees shed their leaves in the fall and remained bare throughout the cold winters. I understood the winter to be a time of rest, a time to store up energy to be ready to burst into action at the first sign of spring.

So it was for me. In the winter I huddled inside where it was warm, venturing outside only when bundled from head to toe. Even then some days my breath froze on my eyebrows and hair, my teeth chattered and I thought my fingers and toes would crack and fall off.

We moved to California after my ninth grade year. The seasons here are not as differentiated as in Ohio. What we call winter is nothing to people who live in the Midwest, North or East, for there it snows and temps can drop well below freezing. Here I think it’s cold if it is below sixty!

Because our seasons are not as sharply delineated, not all trees go through the autumnal changes. Looking out my window right now, I see some leaves in shades of red, but just as many that are still green. We still have flowers in bloom and low-growing bushes covered with leaves.

In time, all but the fir trees will lose their leaves and be bare. It is a good thing, as even our California trees need to rest, to be still in preparation for the wonderful gifts that are to come.

Trees that produce fruit amaze me. They are so generous, so thoughtful, even when their human caretakers are less then vigilant. Day after day apples and pears and oranges and other wonderful things ripen, all for us. Gifts for us!

Some fruits require a little work to get inside. Some don’t. I tend to love fruit that you can bite into and have your mouth filled with sweetness, the juice spilling out of your mouth and onto your chin. Every time I eat an apple I am thankful that I am blessed with having such a marvelous thing to eat.

When I go walking around my neighborhood and see fruit growing on trees, I want to reach up, pull off just one and take a bite. But I don’t. I don’t know how needy the owners are. Perhaps that apple is their only sustenance of the day. Perhaps the orange is their only access to vitamin C. I would not want to steal that reassure from them. So I walk on.

In our neighborhood there are not as many trees as when we first moved in. Some have died. Some have been taken down by their owners. Some removed by the city because their roots were intruding into the pipes. I miss all those trees, the once grand, sprawling trees that hung out over the road creating a marvelous canopy! So beautiful. Now gone.

We often get to drive through forest on our way north and east and south into the mountains. I love to look at the trees, how magically they grow out of rock and cling to the sides of mountain as if they were meant to be there. When the sun shines on them they are a wonderfully deep green.  They sing with life! And when you get up close enough you can take in their rich aroma, like sticking your head in a cedar chest from long ago.

When they are covered with snow it is a picture straight from Christmas cards. I imagine myself riding on a horse-drawn sleigh under their boughs and having dollops of snow fall on my head as I lean back laughing. I have never done this, but I can place myself in the scene.

When I was young I did not wear glasses. Trees were nothing to me then. They leaned over me, frightening me. I thought each and every one would fall on my head, killing me. In fourth grade my teachers demanded that I get glasses. I remember the bus ride home, looking out the window and seeing that the leaning trees no longer leaned! It was a miracle.

These are the reasons that I love trees. Not only do they defy the passing of time, but they stand tall as a reminder of all that they offer us. Beautiful colors and tasty food. I hope that I will never lose my ability to appreciate the wonderful gift that each tree is.

 

Posted in Personal Essay, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First Love

He sat next to me in Kindergarten,

A lovely, blond-haired boy

With tons of freckles on his cheeks.

His blue eyes sparkled

When he spoke to me.

I was so enthralled by him

That I was speechless.

Dumbfounded.

Mute.

But when he took my hand and

Led me outside to the sandbox

I followed with misty eyes.

We played.

He created roads for the plentiful cars and trucks

While I created castles with lopsided spires.

He said words that I did not hear,

But I loved the rhythm of his voice.

The pleasant vibe he created.

He made me smile.

At the end of playtime,

He offered me a red plastic ring.

He told me I was his girlfriend

And then held my hand as we lined up

To go inside.

I glowed.

Not only was he my first boyfriend,

He was my first friend.

His tenderness enchanted me,

A lonely kid who had felt unloved

Until the moment

When he reached out with such unabashed passion

That I could not resist.

He lit my flame, my passion

For love.

Unfortunately when the year ended

We went to different schools.

I never saw my love again,

But I never forgot the yearning I had felt

When so young that I didn’t understand

The meaning of his gestures.

First love.

A momentous feeling.

Posted in Poems, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cloud Watching

When I was young

I spent hours lying on my back

Staring at the clouds

And wondering what they were.

Sometimes a rabbit or cow.

Maybe an old man or woman.

Occasionally a car or truck.

Most importantly,

They represented an ability to dream,

An insight into a creative urge

To make sense of the world around me.

 

I still love to look at clouds

Even though I am officially old.

I no longer see shapes.

Instead I see beauty.

The wispy feather-like clouds

That streak across the sky.

Or the piles of cumulus clouds

That signal storms coming.

Or the thin stretches of clouds

That add depth and color to the sky.

They still represent creativity

Because they stir in me

A desire to put words to paper,

To make sense of the world

Through story and song.

 

I hope that I will always be able to see

Wonder in clouds.

That they will continue to speak to me

In verse and narrative

And help me to tell my version

Of what the world means.

 

So I will keep on watching clouds,

Like I did as a kid.

And keep on trying to make sense

Of the world.

 

 

Posted in Poems, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ocean

I know that you are there,

But I cannot see you.

I hear the ever-changing pattern

Of your waves pounding the shore,

Over and over you crash against the sand,

Breaking it into increasingly smaller pieces.

You pull shells and seaweed and dead bird bodies

Out with your current

Adding them to the detritus encased in your deep.

The tide comes and goes

Sometimes with great force and others

With amazing gentleness,

A rhythm that calls me to come look,

Come see.

But I cannot see because the fog is so deep,

So encompassing that all traces of you

Are hidden.

I yearn to walk into your embrace,

But the dark skies remind me of how very cold you are

And so I stand back, listening to your repeated call.

I want to witness your power,

Not just be here, straining to see you.

But like all things, you have your day and time.

You choose when to reveal yourself.

I have to wait until then,

Feeling bereft and alone.

Posted in Poems, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Commitment

Commitment

the story of a marriage

is one of

trials

and

tribulations

forgiveness

and

letting go

of errors made

love

and

anger

compromise

and

patience

walking together

through life

sharing times

good

and

bad

most of all

reveling

in each other’s

company

until death

do us part

Posted in Poems, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Working Together

Sun looked down at her friend the Earth and smiled. All was good. Trees grew straight and tall. Flowers bloomed. Waters ran, following her magnetic pull, east and west, north and south. Earth was warm where her rays fell, cool where they did not. Both friends were satisfied.

For billions of years Sun provided the things that Earth needed, but what did Earth give Sun? Nothing, Sun thought and so she decided to ask Earth for a favor. “Please, my friend, I am lonely. There is none other like me. I am light and fire while you are air and water and warmth. Tell me where I can find my own kind?”

Earth was puzzled. She knew about nutrients needed to grow things, she knew about the benefits of clean water, but nothing about friends for Sun. “I would love to help you,” Earth said, “but I don’t know where to look. Do you have any ideas?”

Despairing over the lack of help, Sun cried. Flames dripped from her eyes, sparks shooting off into the blackness.

“Hey,” Earth said. “Do that again.”

Sun let loose a whole stream of tears which spewed off in countless directions.

“Look now,” Earth said.

Where there once had been complete darkness, now pinpricks of light dotted the surrounding darkness. Most glittered, but some flew through the dark, trailing brilliant streaks of light.

“Those lights, those flames, they are your children,” Earth said. “In time they will grow and multiply. They will become your friends and companions.”

Sun felt better, but there was still an ache in her heart. “That’s great,” she said, “but what do I do for now? My loneliness has not eased.”

“Love me,” Earth said, “and bless me with a gift of life that we both can enjoy.”

Sun considered the many things she could do. In time, an idea came upon her to create living, moving beings that would subsist on the wonders that Earth could offer. She sent tiny sparks to Earth’s surface. Not enough to cause fire, but the right amount to burst into something new: four-legged and two-legged and winged beings.

Earth was thrilled. “Thank you, my friend,” she said. “I feel the tickle of feet and the whoosh of air as the beings cross my lands. I giggle when they eat of my fruit and drink my water. You have given me a marvelous gift.”

Sun was happy for her friend. She loved the sparks of light in the sky, but she was still lonely. “Earth, my friend, I need your help.”

“I wish I could share my gifts with you,” Earth said. “because I have more than enough. I feel your sadness. What can I do to cheer you up?”

Sun had weighed many possibilities and eliminated all but one. “Since I am light and can create light, maybe since you are the world, you can create other worlds?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never tried.”

“Imagine,” Sun said, “a world like you that travels across the sky. It is sometimes in my light, but sometimes in the dark as well. When it’s in light, it would be my companion. When it’s in dark, it could be yours.”

“Let me think about it.”

Time passed. Day after day Sun lit up first one side of Earth, then the other. She was careful not to let things get too hot or too cold. She watched the beings traverse Earth’s lands and waters and air. She marveled as the plants grew fruitful and then rested only to resurge again. She witnessed rain and snow and shimmering days.

But Sun was growing impatient, so she asked Earth, “Have you any ideas?”

“Yes, I do,” Earth said. “I am willing to give something a good try. I will concentrate as hard as I can, imagining a world that floats like I do, but is sometimes in your light and sometimes in the dark. It might not work, but at least we can say that I tried.”

While Sun waited she also thought of a floating world. In her imagination, it was like a human man, with a face that smiled both at her and at Earth. Time passed with no change, but then as Sun spread her light over one side of Earth one day, something changed. There was a pull, like a string.

Sun woke up her friend, saying, “Something is happening.”

“I feel it, too.”

Out of the darkness came a sphere. Slowly, slowly it moved closer and closer to Earth. It came to a stop between Sun and Earth. Earth was pleased. “It worked! I created a world!”

Sun was also pleased. She shone her light on it and saw a face. An old man’s face, just like in her dreams. “What shall we call him?”

“Moon,” Earth said.

“That’s a perfect name.”

“Moon,” Earth called. “Wake up.”

Moon opened his eyes and was pleased with what he saw. Above him shone Sun and below him lay fertile Earth. “I am happy,” he said.

“Will you be our friend?” Sun and Earth asked together.

“Yes, I will,” he said, “as long as you will be mine.”

All was good. Sun had a friend part of the time and Earth had a friend the rest. When Moon was in Sun’s light, he glowed as if lit from inside. When Moon was on the side of Earth, he faded into the sky, but his pull was always there, moving Earth’s waters back and forth, back and forth, caressing Earth and making her very, very happy.

 

 

Posted in Shiort story, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dreams

I wish that I could say that my mother had loved me.  If she had, I’d tell you about the times she held me in her lap and hugged, so tight, all while crooning soothing words.  I would share the story about when she ran behind my two-wheel bike, holding on to the seat, while I peddled, trying to stay upright.  There’d be stories about long walks in the woods behind our house and working together in the garden.

In the winter, after a good snowstorm, she would have thrown snowballs, built an igloo, and gone sledding down Mrs. Brademeyer’s hill.  In the summer, she would have  taken the hose and squirted water all over me, until my hair drooped like seaweed.  And then she’d give me a towel and a root beer Popsicle.

Maybe when I brought home my report cards she’d checked them over carefully, and then congratulated me on good effort.  And when I was promoted to the next grade, she would have given me a little gift to show how proud she was.

Or there would have been fun-filled shopping trips in which we squeezed into the same dressing room and tried on clothes, laughing hysterically.  Afterwards we would go out to lunch at a restaurant and eat way too much food.  If there was time, we’d go to the movie theater, buy popcorn, and cry all through the love story happening on the screen.

When I played on my high school basketball team, my mother would have attended every game.  When I played well, she would have clapped, demurely, of course.  And when I didn’t get to play in a huge tournament, my mother would have walked right up to the coach and chewed her out.  I can picture her doing that.

She would have followed my bowling team when I played for the junior college, and gone to my badminton matches as well.  She would have carried my gym bag and handed me a towel when sweat dripped into my eyes.  I bet she watched with her fingers crossed, hoping for a strike whenever I released the ball sending it skidding down the alley.

And when I was severely trounced in my first college badminton tournament, my mother would have pulled a crumpled tissue out of her purse and then would have had the good grace to look away in my moment of humiliation.  When I was done feeling sorry for myself, my mother would have offered words of encouragement and then sent me back into the gym to face my next opponent.

Maybe I’d tell about her coming to my high school graduation, and how she got there early enough to sit right up front.  Close enough that I saw her smile with pride as I crossed the stage.  When the principal announced that I had won a state scholarship, she would have stood and applauded louder and longer than anyone.  When we got back home, there would have been a beautifully wrapped present waiting on the dining room table.  Something she thought I’d need for college.

For my college graduation?  She would have flown down to Los Angeles a week early and helped me pick out a new dress to wear.  We would have seen a movie to take off my nervous edge.  And on the day of the ceremony, she would have taken me to a beauty shop for a special treatment.  When I entered wearing my cap and gown, tears would have poured down her face, soaking her cotton dress.

When I moved back home, I’m sure that she would have invited over all the relatives to share in my accomplishments.  What a party that would have been!  Laughter, games, gifts, congratulations.

There would be stories about trying to teach me how to cook.  We could laugh about my “raw” pancakes and the meatloaf that fell into crumbs when sliced.  I’m sure she would have laughed when my first cake didn’t rise as well as over the biscuits that were charred on the bottom.  On the other hand, her face would have lit up when I mastered the infamous green bean casserole and when that green Jell-O mold jiggled, like it was supposed to, when dumped on the serving tray.

I can imagine her smiling when I brought my husband-to-be home for introductions.  She would have immediately fallen in love with him and been happy for me.  She would have shared in my joy, knowing that, at last, I was stepping into adulthood.  That should have made her proud.

It would be nice to speak of the times we shared recipes or of the Tupperware parties that we went to and bought way too many of those wonderful plastic containers.  There would have been birthday parties and anniversaries to celebrate with good food, friends, and lots of laughter.

Yes, I can visualize all of these things.  It’s too bad that absolutely none of them ever happened.

Posted in Personal Essay, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment