Someday Trees

The chaparral ugly as sin.  Scratch hills, undergrowth, roots falling down cliffs, into the ebb flow stream – some trees almost airborne — knifing the air.

I, say, gimme the dirt, gimme the trees.

Some trees, half planted, half not.  Tree beast, they claw the sky.   The freak of nature trees with hallowed out trunks.  One tree, a mean protester over there minds an old offense still underway.  Another in the throes of surprise death — black as Stonehenge.  Some trees I do not approach.  I do not want to know what killed beauty.

And, what about the old oak tree growing behind the green house next door.  The tree grows through a granite boulder the size of Jupiter.  A big black scar on one side of the tree caused by a potted staghorn fern a prior owner hung for pretty’s sake — the water system withering the bark for years.  Eleven years forward, the tree, mends like a zippered scuba suit on its way to good health.

Crazy old tree I’ve got to run my hand over now and then.  To marvel at it — at the massive base, wonder how it still stands.

Nearby, a monument of tree.  A seven-hundred-year old beaut that sold us on buying our house.  A grand dame of a tree, a giantess, goddess tree.  Her dark trunk playing “tip the cow” with our house, limbs stretching over our roofline and drive, the span of which, a baseball diamond, holds up the patch of sky over the place.

This tree matriarch making no secret how she hates our sprawling house. Each of her ten trunks possess the girth of a well-fed carnival strongman, pulling at the house’s foundation and insides.  The charm of which the rooms a fun house slant in those rooms built around the tree over the last century.  Doorways unsquared, now complete with pass-through letterbox openings at their tops where door meets frame.  Hairline fissures crumbling plaster avenues where the frames meet walls.  The sock drawer sock sliding open all night and day makes for easier grab despite my husband’s country fixes at leveling furniture, sanding the cupboards.  For now at least we know in which corner to pick up our young son’s wheel toys.

This mature oak, majestic, could land us dead when it decides its time’s up.  And, me being Irish, long a believer in things invisible have taken the Hippocratic (Tree) Oath.  The “First Do No Harm to Trees” one, having gone so far as to have every passerbys kiss, hug, and climb this tree.  Earning, yielding us all fair measure of wee folk-channeled earthen blessings.

A full throttle treehug’s best.  What’s good for the soil, good for the soul.  Man, some days, beauty can be such a distraction.



Finch, crow, deer, hawk! Hawk! Hawk! Hawk!  

On a low branch of an ancient — an eight trunked oak —  I sit under a cave of branches.  More, a giant bouquet, granite boulders beneath it. My big hiking boots in the thick brown mulch.  Sounds of civilization are finding the canyon — the grey panther — agenda types on their brisk walks; Latinas in sausage casings, leggings, tummies and breasts under one big curved zipped blur, their peach dogs hunched, refusing to walk one inch further into the wilds. Expert hikers, gone already, hours ago.  And others — spectator-walkers, nature lovers palming sage with the summer trainees and me.

People with backpacks and music piping through their ears passing chatty bun girls, twenty-somethings, doing what girls do these days with too much Rapunzel on their heads — their hair — landed drones or big, beefsteak briskets – hair stuffed with who knows what – listening devices? Teddy bear parts?   Puffed hair covered over with more hair, held in place with a single stretchy hairband. The leaf turners behind them, AA folks next, walking at a labyrinth pace who seem to have all day, some, as big as parade balloons, striking the path like everyone else, one step at a time.

Days I love them all, but today, I want to be invisible. Fly ‘there,’ wherever there is, like a hawk, do my hawk business, but not think so much, not think about how better it might be to be an eagle, crow how better to be a tiny yellow bush house finch diving in and out of brush like the ones I let go off my front porch years ago. A day when a fist full of flutter became more itself. Let birds be birds, skip the cage. Ah, to be a red tailed hawk, have dinner for breakfast, not worry about stuff, the nest, clocks, kids, the man.

Jesus Hikes



Jesus in his BVDs under a straw hat, under the falls yesterday at Eaton Canyon, under a stream of water cascading from up above, kicking back in the shallow pond.  You know the place.  Jesus doing the float looking at His navel, toes out front, Jesus with friends.  John the Baptist, I guess, and Mrs. John, a hippie cutie.   The twenty of us hikers at the end of the trail trying hard not to look at the three of them having beers on a late Monday afternoon in a three sided cave.  I didn’t know Jesus drank beer.  Wine, yes, but beer?  Imported, no less.  Mrs. John, in a pale yellow shirtdress, vintage, with rusted side zipper, the kind of cotton you can see through, the kind of cotton good for a summer day, the kind, it being almost that time of year, almost summer.  John having a smoke with the Mrs..  A stub cigarette passing between them, from John’s mouth, past his tunnel of long waist length hair, a thin wall smoking room, down to the filter, to her sweet unturned face.  I am looking around us, my five-year-old son on a giant boulder, see gangbangers have been here, maybe last night, to put their stamp overhead on the cliff behind us, claiming a rock for themselves.  Cholo granite I cannot read, what does it say?  Writing that some volunteers will need scaffolding to cover up with a pretend rock color, the color of make-up, the canyon full of color, full of fixes, full of reminders, of other visitors, other weekenders, their scatter. 

Plastic water bottles, Gatorade, doggie bags, baby diapers.  A trail of breadcrumbs to the finale.  Jesus, kicking back with friends, me thinking about stuff.  Not taking the moment in.  Thinking who’s supposed to clean up the canyon now.  Jesus.  I stifle the itch to reach, reach for the trash, I reach for my camera phone take a picture of Jesus and leave.

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