Venerability

There is so much, there are so many in this world who have merited and achieved venerability.

There are so many who have not, who will not.

I will, on this gratefully rainy day, write of delight in the impomposity (new word?) of older trees, in particular tulip poplars. The one of which I have written before in my town, one that I have been photographing for a number of years now as it has declined in health and robustness, but never in stature, is no more. I bicycled past its spot a few weeks ago and behold! there was nothing but mulch, dust, a few shards of bark, and one flower. All else had been cut, sawn, ripped, and carted away. Here is a late in life photograph of this tree dying from time’s passage, land’s diminishment, man’s malignment, air’s loss of breath.

My old beloved tulip poplar in July 2020. (To say that 2020 is not a good year is to understate)

But about two weeks ago, my sister and I visited an area that is well populated with stands of elderly, stately, venerable trees including scarlet, black, pin, and white oaks, mockernut hickories, shellbark hickories, sweet gums, beeches, some sassafrass, one or two magnolias, two spindly but growing american elms, a few sugar maples and a sycamore or two, and a whole community of tulip poplars, including one estimated to be about 400 years old.

400 year old Tulip Poplar
The bark of an aged Tulip Poplar
In situ
Tulip poplar leaves, trunk, and behind them one of two highways flush against their woods

The home for all these wonderful breathers and givers of life is flush against two major highways and a puzzle of urban streets on which houses are being replaced with HOUSES.

The home for all these wonderful trees is a respite for any one of us who happens by and wittingly or not deep breathes air that has life, even as in our personal and corporate industry we wrest it of its every molecule.

But speaking of homes, a different “tall” tale:

A neighbor of my sister’s gave me a huge baggie of sunflower seeds from I think just one sunflower that grew in front of her house in NYC. Some I will roast and shell and enjoy. Some I have stored in an envelope, named and dated, and stored in a dark space for planting in the deep brown earth outside my shed, a spot that basks in sunlight practically from sunrise to sunset. And it is a space

that is eminently visible to my busy bees, they need make only a slight left in their departure flights to afar, or, even more efficiently, send a contingent from the designated local foragers (those that do not zoom up and over the driveway, but rather spin around in constant infinity loops in the back yard within feet of the hive) Why have I never thought to plant these flowers there before? Oh, I know. There are a passel of raspberry canes there, which I am and have been removing for the past couple of years, as they do not succeed in providing berries, only in procreating their canes and overpowering all in their vicinity. So after 11 years of no luck, I chose to quit, but it is a years and years long effort, as their procreation of canes is prolific and their roots run long and strong under every possible surface. So I will replace removed, perennial raspberry plants with annual sunflowers to accompany the annual wildflowers I already began sowing among the removed and to-be-removed canes two years ago. Assuming success, the bees, the finches, the starlings, the chickadees, the titmice, the cardinals, the white breasted nuthatches, even the sparrows, bluejays and grackles will be happy to feast on those towers of yellow. See me next August, perhaps I, too, will harvest some of those seeds and can share.

I will finish with this from A. A. Milne’s When We Were Very Young

Halfway down the stairs
Is a stair
Where I sit.
There isn’t any
Other stair
Quite like
It.
I’m not at the bottom,
I’m not at the top;
So this is the stair
Where
I always
Stop.

Author: Kate Hemenway

I like to explore, to observe. I like to be within what is around. There is always something to wonder about and to ponder. There is always something.. My favorite ways to get to places are bicycling and walking; or reading, or thinking, or asking. Please feel free to ask back, as I continue to wonder out loud, express joy or concern, or, sometimes, talk through my hat.

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