Greenleaves

Monday

  • Suddenly the great vegetal switch has been thrown.  Following warm spring rains, all is instantly green and becoming more so.  Early trees which flowered before foliation fade as blossoms hide behind newly developing leaves.  Ground perennials and annuals explode early spurts of stalk and shadow, competing for increasing sunlight before bothering with flower and fruit.  After all, just over a month to solstice.  A few beauties , such as dogwood and azaleas, break the pattern, but they provide bright accents, rather than the show itself.
  • I admire these miraculous temperate zone cycles.  The constant equilibrium of more equatorial regions seems boring.  Spring around here is an athletic contest, a race for life, a display of hope and ambition by every species.  Even evergreens break their staid majesty to push out bright buds of cute soft miniscule needles.  A fine time to lounge around and enjoy _ except, perhaps, for ongoing warm spring rains.

Tuesday

So many synonyms for green
All strung together can’t describe

Exactly what I see
Wednesday

  • Even a casual glance at the newly verdant horizon reveals an astonishing assortment of hues, textures, shine, patterns, and transparency.  In another month,  things will dry and settle into a darker, duller, generality.  In May, however, both long views and close up inspections of anything yield pure amazement.  So much variety and so much effort that is usually just taken for granted as folks rush on their busy way.
  • I try to compose pictures, sometimes with a theme in mind, sometimes hoping the theme will leap from the photograph later.  I have to admit that often I repeat almost exactly _ my brain may be infinitely adaptable, but my thoughts travel well-worn paths.  The freedom is in the “almost.”  After all, this spring itself, this fine cool day, is almost like the season last year, almost like yesterday, almost like tomorrow.   And you and I are almost identical.   But from our restricted perspectives, almost is an infinite universe of its own.

Thursday

Winding through dirt paths snaking in copses of trees around the pond at Coindre Hall, I almost literally run into Kevin who is staring up in concentration at a large maple.  “Oops, sorry,” I stumble to a halt.
“No problem,” he laughs.  After all he’s nearly twice my size. 
“What are you so excited about?  Some unusual bird up there somewhere?”
“No, no, I was just amazed at how high these things are, how heavy the branches get, and how they ever manage to stay together through rain, wind, and snow.”
“Some don’t,” I gesture at broken limbs back up the trail, the main reason I hadn’t been paying attention to where I was going.  “I tend to be more astonished that we get so much out of such a tiny little layer of biosphere.”
“What, you don’t think this guy is large and magnificent.”
“From one perspective, sure.  But think of how big the Earth is, and how short the height from deepest roots to topmost leaf.  We take it all for granted.  I find it humbling and a little scary.”
“Well, my friend,” he responds, “then I won’t scare you even more by mentioning that three quarters of that little space is water, and an awful lot more of it is covered in sand or rock.”
“Somehow, it all works.  But I am always humbled by how tiny our realm is compared to the universe.”
“Be as humble as you want, but you still need to respect each individual specimen, especially one like this.”
“A secret woods-worshipper, are you?”
“Maybe,” he chuckles.
“I don’t think you were looking at branches at all.  I think you were trying to find a dryad or nymph.”
“Even if I found one, why would I tell you?”

“Ok, be that way.  Give her my best.  I’m going down to the shore to see if any mermaids have stopped by.”

Friday

  • With herculean effort, the entire arboreal canopy has been regenerated for another season, thick and all but impenetrable.  From the air, Long Island now looks more like virgin forest than one of the most densely populat
    ed places on Earth.  The colors, like the leaves, are sharp and clean and clear, with no insect, drought, nor wind damage marring their newborn outlines and vein structures.
  • Like ourselves from age twenty on, it’s all downhill from here.  Each tiny chlorophyll factory is put to work mercilessly, with barely a rest because solstice nights are short.  Should a worker leaf falter or become sick, it is abandoned and dropped.  And the grand reward at the end of a long summer’s job well done is brutal recycling into the forest floor.  But right now _ ah all is hope and magnificence and wonder.   Why I should concentrate on today.

Saturday

  • It’s easy for us to get too caught up in cycles.  Already there are signs of coming winter, summer weeds like dock are in full bloom, we say “Oh, June already?” and dread next November.  Most of the permanent leaves are fully grown, degradation and decay have set in on a few, there are brown masses indicating flowers gone already.  Trees may regenerate crowns even now, for example if defoliated by caterpillars, but that costs so much that many die over the next year or so.
  • It’s easy for us to get too caught up in the arrow of entropy.  The seas will rise, the glaciers may come, the sun shall dim, in a few tens of billions of years the universe itself will be gone.  Today is useless, what we do has little value, and in the end everything is dead.   Or we shorten our view slightly and decide we can always make things better, or things will always get worse, or things will over the long run stay the same _ why fix a leaky roof when tomorrow may bring sun?
  • It’s easy for us to get too caught up in the moment.  Carpe Diem.  Have another glass of beer.  It’s all the greatest highs or the deepest lows.  We can’t predict the future, so why worry. 
  • Trees, we assume, have none of these problems.  They are driven by local genetics, with no central control.  Animals can be trained, but they have little conception of the long run beyond a season or year or possibly decade.  Only humans face such delicate balances of perspective, which unlike leaves, can spring up instantly and occasionally cripple our thoughts.
  • Some of this is intellect, some of this is hormones.  The wonder is that wonder can be provoked.  The miracle is that most of us, most of the time, do not slide into a pit of viewpoint, and that we can always regain perspectives on cycle, entropy, and moment.

Sunday

  • Branch of Japanese maple glows crisply in fresh morning sun, as the desk calendars would put it.  This small example contains almost uncountable individual leafs, each working to provide food to the rest of the organism.  Yet were it torn by wind or pruning, the tree would recover, because there are so many more.  Imagine the not-quite-infinite number in Huntington, Long Island, North America, or the world!  Yet in some ways the whole assemblage is as fragile as this branch itself.  
  • “Normal” appearance for me tends to be around arm’s length.  My binocular vision is working at that point, yet I still have the advantages of perspective.  Anything further away tends to become part of masses and shadows and other elements of landscape.  Anything closer is extravagantly weird right down to the sub-microscopic level.  Except in certain odd religions or scientific philosophies, my observational point has little to do with “objective reality,” in which the “actual” size is fixed at some defined measurement.  But truly my reality has little to do with that “objective” fantasy.

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