I am Grateful for Trees

I owe my livelihood to trees. No, I am not a logger or a builder. But I do log experiences and build with words. And how did trees lead me to words?

Tree LagunaI fell in love with trees as a child and was lucky enough to be surrounded by them. In Montreal, looking out from my grandmother’s windows, I could see maples, oaks, 200-feet pines, weeping willows, lilacs. Her house backed into a golf course; she and my grandfather were Scottish and avid golfers. After school, my friends and I snuck onto the course and climbed trees – crab apples, trying to stay hidden from golfers, oaks with giant arms over a pond, scrambling down fast enough to outrun those sent to chase us away. We hiked through neighborhood forests, scaring ourselves with tales of hobos, building forts and letting the trees embrace us.

Trees at duskIt wasn’t just the trees I loved, but the way the sunlight danced through and around their branches and leaves. Even in winter, when the trees resembled scarecrows, there was something magical about the silvery light and shadows. Trees can be hulking, gnarly and scary, embracing and protective, or graceful and lacy dancing in the wind.

I felt compelled to capture this and so I tried drawing. The winter trees I could recreate somewhat – one bony hand after another. But trees in spring, summer, fall – flat. My drawings were average and the magic was not there. I especially saw this when one of my girlfriends started to draw, and it soon became evident to everyone that she was a gifted artist. Her trees were alive and mine were not.Tree Smiling

I then tried photographing trees, but my tiny box of a Brownie camera had limitations. Today I can do more with my iPhone camera.

So I started writing about trees. I had an ability with words. I found myself wanting to describe everything, always searching for words and new ways to combine them. When my 5th grade teacher asked us to describe a season, I was off and running. I proudly brought in my essay-poem. She didn’t believe that I wrote it. My normally reserved mother was incensed and charged into our classroom. Of course she wrote it!

Autumn Leaves
There’s a lovely picture one can form
From floating leaves,
The scarlet red mingles with orange and gold,
As they fall like graceful doves
From the naked trees.
— Linda, Age 10

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My Ugly Out Back, Taming the Last Frontier

I’m almost all settled into my new place now. Everything’s unpacked, put away, hung up or enjoying a second life at the Good Will.

The only unsettled area is what I’m calling My Last Frontier and what an artistic friend of mine dubbed The Ghetto.

For two months, the patio and gravel area behind it were my junkyard. Anything I couldn’t find a place for went out into the ugly beyond – shoe racks, shelf units, bulletin boards, old towels, plastic bins full of who knows what.

According to feng shui, this area corresponds to my romance sector. Now I don’t really believe in feng shui, but if I did, I’d be in big trouble out here. Lots of old junk. Many discards. True, I also have living and flowering plants scattered around, but many are of the arid climate variety with prickly spikes. Ouch.

Finally, with my pre-move energy returning, I go out to tackle the Last Frontier Ghetto. I make piles. Keep. Foist off on family. Good Will. I stuff all the GW items into my car and the faux heirlooms into a closet.Last Frontier

This improves my view somewhat. I now see there are two distinct areas – the concrete patio with an overhang, and the outer Siberia hinterlands, a combination of gravel, round and square stepping stones in no particular order or design, ugly green carpet, tall, dead plants someone left behind in plastic pots, electric meters, and the wall of the carport with my car peeking through. There is no bamboo tall enough to block all that, not within 10 years or my budget anyway.

I can, however, banish Siberia from view with bamboo blinds. I’ll hang them from the patio overhang. Enclose the patio and focus on that for now. Add soft curtains, more artfully arranged plants and flowers, and maybe a love seat and candles?

My next door neighbor has blinds hanging around her patio, so I walk up close and examine how they are hung. Then I take a quick peek around the blinds into the patio. I had already imagined she had a cute little table and matching chairs and I’ve heard her out there enjoying wine or beer with her boyfriend. But there is no table or chair. There are just piles and piles of junk! Boxes, old furniture, various pieces of machinery. It’s a junkyard. This is what happens when we don’t have garages. And even with a feng shui no-no of a junkyard in her romance sector, she has a boyfriend. At least for now.