Sunday, September 26, 2010

Still Life 365 - Trees

1. When you saw the theme of trees for the month of September, what immediately came to your mind?

Honestly my thought was something along the lines of, "Ooooo, oooo, I have a lot of things to say about trees."

2. What kinds of words do you associate with trees?

Enduring, tough, adaptable

3. Of these words, do you associate any with yourself?

I don't necessarily think of myself as particularly tough or enduring by nature (perhaps by circumstance). I suppose I'm adaptable but, really, who isn't?

4. Have you been an outdoorsy person throughout your life?

In a former life, many years ago, I was an outdoor experiential educator. I spent a lot of time in the woods, teaching kids about biology, ecology, and our relationship with trees and plants. In fact, I built an entire curriculum on traditional medicinal uses and various edible wild plants. Now I spend most of my time indoors staring at a computer screen wondering if I could somehow get back to that former life.

5. How has your relationship with nature changed since your loss(es)?

On the one hand, I feel a certain kinship toward critters and the sorts of indignities they endure, e.g., storm-blown baby birds and squirrels, street trees with their bark scraped off by lawnmowers and car doors. I feel like we're all sort of trapped by fate and just getting by as best we can. On the other hand, I've actually been sort of pissed at a mother goose carelessly letting her 6(!) babies cross a busy road--doesn't she care about them?!

Overall, I feel like reflecting on the great variety of life on this planet and the very peculiar and amazing adaptations plants and animals exhibit is a good way to feel both inspired and humbled.

6. Did you plant a tree or bush in honor of your child?

Since R is actually named after a plant that grows relatively well in our neck of the woods, we've planted several little shrubs in her honor...mostly to good effect. My brother has had multiple fatalities of the same plant. He finally gave up because it was starting to creep him out.

Last year I found a tiny, volunteer red maple growing under the playground equipment we donated in R's honor. At the moment it's still in a temporary home at my Mom's house but I think we'll move it into our yard in the spring. I'm pretty nervous about moving it--what if it doesn't survive?

7. If you have planted a tree for your child, in what ways do you incorporate the tree into your life? If you haven't, what natural images do you associate with your loss? (Do you tend to it? Do you meditate or reflect under it? Do you places flowers by it?)

At the moment I just sort of fret about its safety and survival...sigh. But I have big plans for it.

8. Trees have also been used to represent families. Talk a bit about your own family tree.

I've been thinking a lot about my family tree lately and wondering how many of my foremothers endured babyloss or fertility issues. We don't exactly have a huge family and there are several childless great-aunts in the mix.

I grew up hearing about my great-uncle who died shortly after birth and how my great-grandmother knew he was going to die when she saw an owl outside the kitchen window and how my great-grandfather lied and said that the baby had been baptized so that he could be buried in the family plot. This story is a fairly good illustrative example of some key family characteristics. A tiny part of my brain is also confident that R is in good hands with my superstitious Grandmom and my white-lying Grandpop.

9. What are your feelings now about family trees and exploring your own lineage?

I can't say it's something I'm all that interested in. I like getting information in bits and pieces from various relatives at family gatherings.

10. The rings of trees fascinate me. I remember learning that in hard years, the rings were smaller, or darker than in years of good water. Describe the rings of your tree.

Over the last decade we've been on a 2-year cycle for death and mayhem. During the more mayhemish years I always remember a friend of mine who liked to say, "When it rains, it fuckin' pours." So, I guess we have alternating skinny and fat rings. But I'm hoping for a drought.

Sidenote: There is a spectacular sunrise at the moment and the dog is insisting that we go for a closer look. No time to edit or correct anything...hope I did ok.

Side-sidenote: After letting this sit for a while I realized that I sound like an ignoramus when saying that I'm not interested in learning more about my family tree. Of course I'm interested. I think I mean that I prefer the casual/serendipitous approach rather than the formal research and interviewing. There's nothing quite like finding out that you're related to the Amazing Kreskin at a random family gathering. I'm sure no one in the family would have owned up to this fact if they thought I was recording it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Infinite Possibility...Part 2

So last week I was chatting with the New Guy at Work (NGaW) and he mentions that someone was arrested back in April while poking around the dumpster outside the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and that he CLAIMED TO BE FROM THE FUTURE and subsequently DISAPPEARED from his room at the mental health facility where he was detained.

I found this whole thing surprising for several reasons:
1) I was unaware that something so bizarre had happened for almost 5 months
2) NGaW is also nerdy enough to read up on the LHC
3) People apparently still wear tweed in the future rather than head-to-toe silver lame (imagine the accent mark, folks)

Do you ever feel like you have a choice to make? You could go on with your skeptical views, you can listen to the teacher and assume that some things are just not possible...or you could exit the herd, leave the other sheeple behind, and open your eyes to the possibility that ripples out there along the edges.

Kit-kats for everyone in a communist chocolate hellhole!?! I wonder if it means what we understand it to mean or if language has just evolved.


Imagine a sunny day at the beach with ginormous, hurricane waves, an opinionated 3-year-old, and a whole bunch of people who can't see how desperately you want to be alone. Imagine a long walk down the beach and a wrestling match in the public restroom (with said 3-year-old), a large cup of french fries and a threatening horde of gulls tracking your every move. Struggle to think only happy thoughts about this precious child--the antidote to every rotten feeling you've had over the past 3 years.

Feel your nerves stretch under the strain. Pluck one. It's a high C.

Finish the fries, hand the kid a bucket and shovel, sit down on the chair that you lugged all the way here and haven't used once. Don't cave in. Take a break. She can get over it.

Look up for no particular reason. See a lone butterfly fighting the wind. Watch it beat a drunken path across the dunes. Smile as it approaches and smacks your grouchy daughter right in the face. Try not to cry when she laughs. Wave good-bye as it flies away.

Watch it disappear into the rippling edge.

Feel better.