Tree Secrets

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Of winter’s lifeless world each tree
Now seems a perfect part;
Yet each one holds summer’s secret
Deep down within its heart.
~ Charles G. Stater

 

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Enduring the dark and quiet winter months, the trees appear to doze deep while standing stark naked against the sky, roused only by the whipping of the winds and when breaking under a heavy coat of ice.

It is uneasy sleep.

When I look close now, I can tell:
they conceal summer secrets under their skin, the sap flows thick and sluggish, there is a barely palpable pulse in those branches.

A heart pumps within, readying.

 

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Buds So Subtle

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I see buds so subtle
they know, though fat, that this is no time to bloom.
~John Updike from “December, Outdoors”

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Yesterday, our farm trees and bushes filled with buds of ice reflecting a bright and crisp Christmas sunlight.  It was a crystalline wonderland celebrating the subtle beauty of winter.

Yet even today at the local grocery store garden centers, there will no longer be buyers for “winter” products — overnight, Christmas completely disappears except for the “remainder” and “two-for-one” tables. Unsold poinsettias and fresh evergreen wreaths are hauled away along with the oddly shaped and drying Christmas trees to make way for containers of unbearably cheerful primroses and early forced narcissus and hyacinth plants.  Barely a week into winter, Valentine’s Day and spring will be right in our faces as we wheel past with the grocery cart, a seductive lure to effectively skip a whole season of restorative watch-and-wait.  Color and fragrance and lush blooms are handed to us without even taking a breather.

Dormant plants and hibernating animals have the right idea this time of year: “already, but not yet.”  Rather than slogging daily through the burden of mud, skittering precariously across icy fields or reaching up out of snow drifts, they quietly rest up.  Well fed and pregnant with potential, they are alive and well beneath a facade of sleep.  Come out too early and risk starvation and frostbite.

So it’s not yet time to bloom — being a subtle bud is exactly what is needed.  Out-of-season blossoms need not apply.

We swell with potential to dream dreams of a glorious growth to come.

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The Secret Hallowing

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This fevers me, this sun on green,
On grass glowing, this young spring.
The secret hallowing is come,
Regenerate sudden incarnation,
Mystery made visible
In growth, yet subtly veiled in all,
Ununderstandable in grass,
In flowers, and in the human heart,
This lyric mortal loveliness,
The earth breathing, and the sun…

~Richard Eberhart from “This Fevers Me”

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The headlong rush into spring
in mere weeks
when grass grows a foot in a week
and buds that appear gently expectant
explode with color-
this is a hallowing of life
lying dormant over long winter months.

It is beyond my understanding
beyond my imagining
beyond being left breathless by the transformation,
each fevered breath
that could be,
but isn’t,
my last.

 

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As Eyes Open

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A flower needs to be this size
to conceal the winter window,
and this color, the red
of a Fiat with the top down,

to impress us, dull as we’ve grown.

Months ago the gigantic onion of a bulb
half above the soil
stuck out its green tongue
and slowly, day by day,

the flower itself entered our world,

closed, like hands that captured a moth,
then open, as eyes open,
and the amaryllis, seeing us,
was somehow undiscouraged.

It stands before us now

as we eat our soup;
you pour a little of your drinking water
into its saucer, and a few crumbs
of fragrant earth fall
onto the tabletop.
~Connie Wanek “Amaryllis”
_____________
It came home with me over a month ago,
a non-descript bulb with a green sword-blade shoot
emerging shyly from the top.

Its care and feeding
was a lot of “watch and wait”
and just a little water.
It was our December morning entertainment
as we munched down cereal,
gauging how many centimeters
it rose over night.

It took over the dining table~
two tall stalks topped with tight-fisted buds
which opened oh-so-slowly over several days
like a drowsy student on Christmas break,
not yet ready to meet and greet the world
but once the commitment to wake is made,
there is no other blossoming quite like it anywhere.

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Flowering From Within

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The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath
them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.
~
Galway Kinnell “Saint Francis and the Sow”

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Pale Spring

photo by Chris Lovegren from our farm hilltop, Easter Sunrise 2012
photo by Chris Lovegren from our farm hilltop

“So fair, so cold; like a morning of pale spring still clinging to winter’s chill.”
~ J.R.R Tolkien

Clear and sunny skies on the second day of spring were full of deception today — no warmth emanates from a dimming sunlight stark with shocking briskness from a chill wind.

It’s all show without actually delivering the goods.  We have clawed our way out of winter, trying to shake off the frost and leave it far behind, seeking out encouraging sightings of buds and blooms and blossoms.

Maybe tomorrow morning, or perhaps the next.

Just maybe.

Or not.

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Twin Sisters from our farm hill, photo by Emily Gibson