I understand why it must be, but this hurts:
As if the butchering of our Chinese elm and lovely crape myrtle earlier this week wasn’t enough, while I was out yesterday the power company snuck into the backyard and installed a hideous guy wire, to fortify a pole. Hideous being my perspective. Actually, the work seems neatly and sturdily done. The wire runs from high on the pole to a stake hammered into my flower bed. And it’s encased (for safety I suppose) in a neon-yellow tube. Lots of worse impingements in this world. It does serve nicely as metaphor for what we get to either resent, or accept as best we can.
Having no other choice, I’m trying to think of this impingement as an art installation. Light saber? Highway to heaven?
Yesterday the power company contractors came to our backyard, swarmed up our beautiful longsuffering Chinese elm and our heretofore unmolested crape myrtle and removed a goodly portion of them. My broken heart was little eased by thinking of the common good.
Still, this new day has dawned fresh and bright, and my dawn patrol yielded treasure in a small tree in the front yard.
A Leonard Cohen lyric comes to mind:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
Because humans are social creatures?
Because without connection and occasional friendly touch we will surely die?
Because we need constructive criticism?
Yes, yes, and yes.
I will illustrate the third reason with three examples.
1) I was sitting on the Riverwalk in San Antone, neath the shade of a four-hundred year old cypress tree. Which made me think of the inspirational little book a friend gave me for my birthday. In the spirit of letting her know her gift was still on my mind, I texted a picture of the cypress to her, captioning it “Forest Bathing.” Well, my more literal minded friend fired back: “Too much cement for forest bathing.” She’s right. And so am I. It felt like forest bathing to me. And guess what? It turns out we were both in San Antonio. She at a bridge tourney – oh that sharp mind of hers! – and I doing a whole lot of nothing.
2) I was driving pensively up the street when I saw a string of helium balloons come hurtling down from the heavens, across my hood, and onto a roadside lawn. Because I was in a self-pitying trance when this happened, I succumbed to the temptation to get all woo-woo mystical. Then I compounded my folly by reporting my poignant experience in an email to a friend. (You will note of course that it was all about me.) She fired back that helium balloons are killing wildlife, that stupid people think their stupid party balloons just rise into the sky, never to return and do harm. This broke my trance, for sure! The story of poet David and prophet Nathan comes to mind. David needed a reality check, and Nathan was kind to oblige. The Poet and the Prophet, oh yes.
3) I turned in an article. A friend called to say he was confused by the title, and by my essay’s lack of context. The woo-woo poet strikes again! I may be a mystic but if my aim is to connect, it does little good to mystify. So I fixed it.
Now to the part I’m sure you were waiting for! My eighteen month old granddaughter, at the beach, evidently mistook a clump of tar for a rock. Fortunately there are Big People in her life who know what to do.
God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”
God created human beings; he created them godlike, reflecting God’s nature.
Genesis 1:26-27, The Message
Gathering gloom on Evangeline. The good kind! It’s seven a.m. and needed rain is on the way. As I sit tucked into my corner of the patio, the dark cloud descending has nothing to do with the troubling headlines on the table before me. It’s all about peace, and the promise of refreshment. For sure the birds aren’t troubled! To my delight, the shy catbird couple appears, flirting silently around the birdbath. Evidently my stillness and my black robe render me invisible. Or at least not a serious threat. Then they head up into the Chinese elm, where he begins his merry caroling and mewing. The catbirds and I are resolved to tend our corner today.
Cacaphony this early morning. Hullabaloo. I’m talking about the neighborhood watch known as blue jays, who have their own technique for spreading bad news: raucous screaming.
In the midst of my human fears, stirred as they are by relentless reports of violence, ignorance, accusations, injustices of every stripe, including starved whale-stomachs full of plastic detritus, I am now privileged to worry what heinous thing is loose in my own neighborhood. Snake? Hawk? Prowling cat? Whatever it is, the screaming cannot be ignored.
Conditions must be good for blue jays this year. Hosts of trainees, wings all a-quiver, begging to be fed. Unlike the solitary ways of some of my songbirds, blue jay parents and trainees swoop about in squadrons. Life for them seems to be all about community. And sure they shout and jostle. But not with this level of sustained squalling.
I went to the sun porch window, little hoping for an explanation. But there it was, right in front of my eyes. At first I thought the form in the hedgerow was a fledgling. But it was awfully still for a fledgling. So I went out to see. Sadly, it was an adult jay, deceased. The moment I crossed an invisible line, there rang out a sharp challenge from the dense crape myrtle foliage directly above my head. I cannot emphasize enough my admiration for the combination of emotion and menace and forbearance, all wrapped up in one piercing syllable: “Jay.”
I told the invisible sentinel that I was very sorry for what happened to his comrade. Then I backed carefully away.
Later I saw another jay wing down to the corpse, and stand very still for a moment. Paying homage.
Still later I crept out (with a hat on my head). There was agitation in the foliage. But I was allowed to come close, and take this image:
Why did I wander outside this morning just in time to see a grackle chase a swallow-tailed kite across my airspace? All I can say is that for them, one being ‘common’ and one being heart-stoppingly rare made not a whit of difference.
Why did I glance outside just now and see a starling wrestling a small snake? Other I mean than that I’ve been in love with the goings-on of this particular back yard since 1984? All I can say is that I tried to join the scene, hoping the starling would be startled into dropping his lunch so I could see what manner of young snakes are in the back yard this year. But he didn’t.
Why is there a chipper-machine grinding away just outside my back fence? I fear it’s because the tree people are back, to notch my beloved Chinese Elm again, all for the sake of free-flowing electricity to the neighborhood.
‘Leave my Chinese Elm alone. I love her. Oh well, if you must …’
Why did I step up onto the rim of the fountain? The better to see the chipper. And, because I’ve never in all these years walked the perimeter of the fountain. It was fun. But I’m no fool – I kept one casual hand on the rim of the fountain.
This image requires little explanation. Enough to say I’ve loved these two a long time:
Mothers Day plus One: The next image is a little blurry. Much like life can be. It shows Someone I’ve been worrying about, wondering if he made it through the recent storms and flooding. Evidently he found high ground, for here he is this morning, dining on my prize Ground Orchids: