Where the path was gone, down and through the mud and leaves, over fallen branches turtles use to sun themselves, when I am not about, then through the sedge and flowery cattails, I kept going, until at last I came to see a tall and stately egret staring back at me. His head he cocked quizzically before he soared away, leaving me to make my way back, as I had come, but the path was gone.
I dare not leave these woods quite yet, something lurks up above, something lingers behind a tree, waiting just for me
… in these woods, lovely, dark, and deep.
I cannot sleep for from the distance in the woods comes a sound, “Who?” it calls mocking me. I dare not answer, my knees are knocking, teeth chattering. Am I scared?
Then, I hear a branch crack, needles crunch, and I have got a hunch from the woods there comes for me a dark and hairy beast. Should I run, should I grab a great big stick, or, should I fall and make a tiny little ball? Then, I manage in a tiny voice to call out, father-mother are you there?
Silence, says my father, go to sleep.
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” – Mark Twain
It certainly had a wide celebrity…but I was aware that it was only the frog that was celebrated. It wasn’t I. – Mark Twain’s Autobiography
It seems like such a waste, what do the French do with the rest of the frog, and what does the frog do with the rest of the day?
“[W]enn wir gelernt haben, die Bäume anzuhören, dann gewinnt gerade die Kürze und Schnelligkeit und Kinderhast unserer Gedanken eine Freudigkeit ohnegleichen.” Hermann Hesse
“[W]hen we have learned to listen to trees, the brevity, rapidity, and childishness of our thoughts gain unrivaled joy.”
Such a lovely thought by Hermann Hesse, I think, that a tree speaks, but of what?
A tree, as Hermann Hesse says, knows nothing of its ancestors and nothing of its progeny. It stands alone, a giant like Beethoven and Nietzsche, towering over the earth, its branches rustling in the wind, and its roots, intertwined, rooted in infinity.
There is a recent theory that that trees mysteriously communicate with each other, and, if that is right, then Hesse is wrong in thinking trees are solitary creatures whose selfish existence is solely lived for themselves. The theory goes that trees in the forest share with each other carbon and other elements. Diversity is therefore important for it allows one species to give to another species when it is in need. The forest is its brother’s keeper. The tree dependent on the health of the forest for its survival.
That too is a lovely thought.
“Ein Baum spricht,“ a tree speaks, Hesse says.
There is an ancient Elm tree that stands alone in the city where I live. It is a remnant of the many grand trees that once lined the block. Its thick branches droop. When a great wind storm comes, old branches break off and fall to the ground. Each spring thousands of tiny flowers appear, then seeds which cover the sidewalks and street, and having nowhere to take root, are washed away.
Is it sad to be the last tree?
There is an oak tree in my back yard that is at least 100 years old. It is home to a family of squirrels that feed from the seed and peanuts I provide. The squirrels run and play on its grey bark. From time to time they just cling to the bark watching me watch them. The oak tree was here before my house was built. It has seen three families come. It will be here when I am gone.
Who has not gone into the woods to find an ancient tree whose bark is gnarled and face like, whose branches reach out to the sky in supplication to God above. A tree that has stood the test of time, the bitter cold and heat, the drought and rain, and through it all has not complained.
Was sagen die Bäume?
This begs the question, of what does a tree think?
It stands and watches, much like God, of the comings and goings of life. It is home to the birds and squirrels that nest in its branches. It gives food to the deer that feed below. Its broken branches provide firewood for the traveler who wanders by and needs warmth. It is a repository of time.
Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Persevere, for who knows what tomorrow brings?
“[Und] wenn wir gelernt haben, die Bäume anzuhören, dann gewinnt gerade die Kürze und Schnelligkeit und Kinderhast unserer Gedanken eine Freudigkeit ohnegleichen.”
How did I get here? In a canoe on a lake in Saskatchewan with a paddle and nowhere to go but across, and when I fall asleep tonight under a blue sky and the starlight and a full moon looking down on me, I want nothing more than to know how did I get here and where do I go.
Life is not always so serene.
There are chance meetings and couplings, marriages and births and deaths. There are wars and peace and they both play a part in life. There are choices we make that make no sense. Like the time that I swam in the ocean off Hawaii with the turtles and the sharks did not bite. Or the moment on the mountain in Colorado when I didn’t fall but your boyfriend did and slipped to his death. There were jobs not taken and jobs taken and jobs that I quit. And all of these things lead me to you.
Life is not always serene.
There were days when I wanted to quit. It rains, it storms, the lightening is bright and winters are bleak. The children, God bless them, have grown and have lives of their own. Leave them alone, I hope they find peace. Perhaps in our travels life has changed or has time changed us. What is the point of arguing over coffee cups and the grinds of the beans left in the sink?
And that is how I got here darling, but where do we go?
What images and thoughts come to mind when seeing a butterfly alight on a prickly thistle?
Prickly is the purple thistle
To birds and beasts and man
But not the butterfly
Oh Mary in her purple gown
Has a visitor today,
A thistle blooms in May
Each flower blooms and waits
For a butterfly – to come, to sit, and sip,
Then to fly away
The gentle summer wind blows
Not half as sweet as the nectar of a flower
To a butterfly
Purple thistle, gently kissed
By a Swallowtail butterfly
Summer’s pleasant, winter’s not
The lake is quiet,
the trees surround me,
The sun is rising in the east.
The dawn of a new day
The sky is a brilliant orange
and somber grey.
A pair of geese
beckoned by the beauty
of the morn,
go gliding by.
And I if heaven were on earth
Would it look like this?
Me alone at peace.
Say, did you hear the joke about the fun guy (fungi) who went to the party and left because there was not mushroom?
Don’t step on that mushroom!
Mushrooms, or fungi, are symbionts, capable of decomposing old wood and leaves, breaking down complex molecules that otherwise would clutter the forest floor, thereby playing a crucial role in the global carbon cycle.
Mycology is the study of fungi. And it is a good subject to study for fungi are important in medicine (penicillin) and bread and beer (yeast). Less helpful, that pesky microscopic fungus that gives us Athlete’s foot, bread mold, and the potato blight.
Man has known about the mushroom for thousands of years. Ötzi the Iceman, a 5,300-year-old Neolithic man found frozen in the Austrian Alps, carried mushrooms that he might have used as tinder, food, or as a medicine.
Lovely to eat, but better to leave the picking to those that know since some varieties are poisonous.
Could these mushrooms be the newly named Amanita Populiphila Tulloss et Moses. They were found in a wooded area in southeast Kansas, Toronto State Park, October 2014? More likely, they are the Elm Mushroom, Hypsizygus Ulmarius, cousin to the Oyster Mushroom, but I need a mycologist to tell me for sure.