How have you spent today, Wednesday, October 16th, 2019? I began with a gentle bicycle ride to our city’s downtown and coffee with my friend, who willingly drives up from hers to mine, enabling me to pedal a mere 15 delightful minutes to the coffee shop/bakery where we will meet. The generosity of friends always holds me lightly and I am grateful. I am very grateful.
This afternoon I sat right here where I am and for 90 minutes total (broken up into 2 to 15 minute intervals) I watched videos of Concord River water rushing through the weir. The very same site that I visited 26 times in May and June for 10 minutes at a time, standing at the edge of the fish ladder, serenaded by many and multiple songbirds, clicker in hand, to count the number of alewives swimming up the ladder alongside the falls. I must say the springtime outdoor visits were delightful. The 90 minute indoor exercise, perhaps I could call it a zen experience.
Thus, the fish counting saga for 2019. Next year, I will bring you another story or two. Count on it! (pardon the pun)
Where has the time gone? It is now October 24th, and this day has been another beauty. A great day for a walk, and so we took one. I continue to be astonished by the range of weather in this country on any given day, nevermind the entire earth. On the one hand, you can tell me that, yes, it’s natural that there is such variety, because of the tilt of the earth and the relative nearness to the sun of each part of the earth compared with each other part of the earth plus the earth’s rotation on its axis, which also, of course, impacts an area’s nearness to the sun, etc. etc. And on the other hand, the coincident immensity of differences of weather in various geographies of just the United States relative to, say 30 years ago, talks to something nearer to earth than the sun, talks to our impact on the ground, the water, the air, the things that support life on this earth; talks about our rough stewardship of this earth.
It would appear that I am going to be compelled to raise this alarm with each of my posts. I beg each of us to heed it and do our utmost to steward not diminish what comprises this earth.
Onto a little teaching I have been trying to give myself this year. I am trying to figure out which oak trees’ leaves turn red and which turn yellow, and if there is any consistency. Well, I thought that this would be answerable in the red oak family here in Massachusetts by identifying which are northern red oaks, which are black oaks, which are scarlet oaks, which are pin oaks, through their leaf shapes and/or bark configuration and then note the color that is emerging from their particular leaves. No, no, no! The other day I was walking among a plethora of oaks of many varieties. Identifying them by their leaf and bark characteristics I saw northern red oaks with red-green leaves and I saw northern red oaks with yellow leaves. I saw black oaks with yellow leaves, and I swear I saw more black oaks with red leaves than red oaks with red leaves. The scarlet oaks were turning red. The pin oaks were turning yellow, except for one that looked like it was going to hold onto green until it was time to turn brown. Well, and I don’t know, I think I saw a pin oak that was turning red, but maybe it was a scarlet oak, the tree was too young, lithe, and slender for me to know by the bark. So what have I learned so far? Oak to oak, just like everything else, no 100% certainty can be given to an assumption, a prediction, or an observation. Everything is itself, just as everyone is ourself. Each one is the only one it is, as I am the only one I am, and you are the only one you are.
Anyway, I collected several leaves that had fallen but had not yet shriveled or disintegrated. One was a green pin oak leaf. Two were chestnut oak leaves. One was a huge maple leaf, another a catalpa leaf, another a beech leaf, and I am not sure, but from one small, young tree I may have collected an elm leaf. I need to study that one some more. These leaves, as leaves collected in years past, are pressed in between pages of one of my books on trees. Since many of these leaves were extra large, they are residing between the pages of a very large book called The Love of Trees. Pretty appropriate, yes? I also photographed the lemon yellow and lime green leaves of one of the trees that I seek out urgently because I see so few, the tulip poplar. Last year I collected a huge tulip poplar leaf from the very, very tall and old tulip poplar that graces an otherwise insufficiently treed street here in this city and which is dying. That leaf, too, is in The Love of Trees book. And I record that tree each year with at least one photograph, just to hold it. Because it is itself, and it is for not a lot longer.
A poem to close us out.