Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Friday lovely as a Tree

This is the view from my bedroom window, at least as it appeared the day after Thanksgiving.
I don't often get to look out this window in the daylight in the winter, so my post-Thanksgiving window meditations got me all Sgt. Joyce Kilmer-y.

I love the look of trees in winter.  There are so many more branches than you'd think, so many more than you'd ever draw into a picture.  The trees are an amazing network of abundance.  My running buddy spent a recent Saturday morning unloading nine hundred (900!) Christmas trees off of trucks and into her nursery, and she tells me how surprised she was that the trees were not as heavy as she feared they'd be.  There's a lot of wood in a tree, but there's a lot of space in a tree, too.

In spite of their lightness, or perhaps because of it, trees are strong.  Even when their leaves are gone, there are so many boughs/branches/stems/twigs that the trees are almost hairy with wood.  They carry not only their own weight, but also the weight of what nature throws at them.  "Upon their bosom snow has lain; they intimately live with rain" says Kilmer, and you can see that the recent rain and snow has collected in these branches, that the ground under the trees is still grassy instead of snowy.  The trees, which look on God all day, lift their bare but water-logged arms to pray.

It's a lovely metaphor for my after-Thankgiving day.  In some ways, I did so much: so so much.  I canned turkey stock, prepared for my last weeks of teaching, ran a few miles with my husband, wrote letters, celebrated Tuba Christmas downtown with my daughters.  But it was also an airy day, with space for a rare mid-morming nap (when I could look at the trees though the blue-gray light of morning), a day when I could pretend I am retired already, a day when at times I teetered on the edge of being bored.

It was also a day of cleaning up.   The incredible collection of pots and pans, each one of them a reminder of a different delicious kind of food, gathered together in the kitchen for a giant soap-and-hot-water party.  (The dog of course got to help with the first round of clean up).  Even cleaning is not that bad when there is space for it -- space in the kitchen, and space in the calendar.  Like the trees, I'm soaking up this abundance around me, lifting my soapy hands to pray.

There's something wonderful about green leaves, but it's in the winter, when the crazy throng of leaves have fallen away, that you get to see the structure and skin of the trees.   It's the same aspect I love about a quiet weekend, when the meetings and memos have fallen away, where I can peer past the foliage and get a quiet glimpse of the intricacies in my own life.

Silver bark of beech, and sallow
Bark of yellow birch and yellow
Twig of willow.

Stripe of green in moosewood maple,
Colour seen in leaf of apple,
Bark of popple.

Wood of popple pale as moonbeam,
Wood of oak for yoke and barn-beam,
Wood of hornbeam.

Silver bark of beech, and hollow
Stem of elder, tall and yellow
Twig of willow.

by Edna St. Vincent Millay 
Counting-Out Rhyme

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