I’d like to share something that I’ve selfishly kept to myself for many years. It’s free and it’s beautiful.
My favorite moment occurs when conditions are just right: the sky is a foreboding grey, the sinking sun is well onto closing down for the day, and a gentle wind lifts the tree leaves like fluttering butterflies.
The moment begins when the sun’s last rays illuminate just the tree tops. Then it happens–lasting only a few surreal minutes. Nothing else can describe this sight except magical–the magical last light.
It’s truly spectacular. The interior light in my studio softens even the dogs take notice.
It’s like leaving Kansas for Oz…
I hope you enjoyed this moment as much as I. If you take the time to seek out this light, you too will be reminded that all things are possible–even peace on earth…
Reworked old post from 2014, I thought fitting for today 🙂
Did you know two Revolutionary giants used to hang out in our park. Washington and Lafayette met right under our tree. A tarnished plaque dated 1777 said so. Did you also know our strategizing was a lot more important than powdered-wig war secrets. We discussed baseball strategies nine ways ‘til Sunday. But whispering strategies didn’t always help our game, especially on sweltering summer days. Sometimes a slippery baseball hit the cement block backstop so hard, it became tattooed with the year 1777. When the baseball acted rubbery, those old war farts heckled us. Luckily for them, we weren’t ever interested in their lame commentary. We were only interested in playing ball in the park built for our tree–the grand oak still generously sheltering those old geezers’ ghosts.
The mighty tree was giant–a real giant. He was way taller than Washington and Lafayette standing on a whole pile of Yankees. Ten of us could just about clasp our hands together around his mammoth trunk. I was certain if our great oak had been given a mitt and some legs he would’ve made a damn fine ballplayer. Joe DiMaggio didn’t have a special park built around him with a cement block that stopped rubbery balls.
In the summer of 1971 there romped a wicked storm. The thunder was louder than a pissed off volcano. Lightning lit the sky so bright you could see bolt shadows up there. The firing white jagged bullets shot several of the great oak’s knobby arms clean off. The colossal branches covered some of the baseball field but we didn’t notice. The big limbs didn’t stay on the ground too long. Thick men in green pants came to haul them away. The workers matched the trees so we knew they were on the level. They looked how men should look who had to haul away nature. The smallest of them said our friend was a white oak. He said the white oak was mighty like him then he flexed his Popeye arm. Sally N giggled while asking if he’d swallowed a kickball. Kickball Arm said our mighty oak was over two hundred years old and that nature had a way of talking herself into new beginnings. I wanted to run home and write down what he’d said. I knew I’d forget and I did until just now. We looked at our friend’s powerful arms on the charred ground. Then the gas-powered saws came out–chained machines with voices like traffic accidents. If our tree had been Joe DiMaggio, they would have left his arms alone even if they weren’t attached.
The late summer crickets were chirping in waning conversations. Vacation was over like playing summer ball for us. There was a new grade to battle. Another badge to add to the dreadful learning sash. I always had trouble falling asleep on these nights. Though my head was heavy this night, my eyes fought gravity. From my bedroom window, I watched leafy silhouettes whooshing back and forth. Another storm–looked bad. I wished all neighborhood trees safe under my Spiderman comforter. Watching the angsty black sky light up angry white, I wasn’t thinking about stuffing my navy knees socks under a desk anymore. If this was nature talking, she was doing it really loud like my Aunt Betty who was mostly deaf.
The next morning, the lazy sun managed waking for school like we had to. Getting to the bus stop on time required a breakfast shovel and a front door sprint. I’d get whooped if I missed the bus. My mom liked hitting butts with slippers. So I shoveled and ran out the door while throwing my mom air kisses. At the end of the street, on the next block was our park. Our mighty oak was standing there sure as sunlight. I laughed when I saw his baseball cap made of clouds. I knew I shouldn’t, but I took my lucky baseball out from my backpack’s secret zipper compartment. “Don’t be late for school!” My mom’s voice yelled from my Batman pencil case. I took a few steps into the park. Who was I to say no to a mighty oak. Wanting to impress him, I threw that ball as hard as I’ve ever thrown anything in my life. Harder than the spoon, I threw at my sister’s head when she stole my animal crackers. Wouldn’t you know that giant white oak jumped sky high into the blue air. His roots were covered in one-thousand baseball cleats. I didn’t count them this was a guess. As he caught the baseball, he laughed louder than the whole Yankee team–a great booming laugh. He threw the ball back. Don’t be late for school!
The smell of a new school day ran across my bedroom windowsill. I reached my hand up and felt the damp glass. It was the first day of fifth grade. My mom was standing over my bed like our mighty oak’s baby sister. She said I was lucky to have slept through the night. The last storm of summer had been a nasty one. Down the road, a pine tree crashed through Mr. Laddy’s roof. I rushed my morning ablutions then scooted. “Don’t be late!” my mom yelled, as the storm door slammed shut behind me. I ran around the block.
Steven S, Joe M, and Sally N were standing by the park fence. There was miles of yellow tape and four green trucks. These trucks were much bigger than the one a few weeks ago. I thought the green men had returned as trucks. I wasn’t going to cry like a girl. Not in front of my teammates. Looking beyond where our mighty friend once stood tall and proud, there were no clouds shaped like baseball caps. I wondered if this was what Kickball Arm had meant about nature talking herself into new beginnings. Maybe nature thought our mighty old tree was too tired to stand up anymore.
Those four trucks had metal toothed maws that were opening wide for breakfast. One heaving boom was followed by another as their jaws began moving. I hoped somewhere in those deep death reverberations, Washington and Lafayette were giving our fallen friend a proper twenty-one gun salute on his way to tree heaven. I honored the mighty oak too in military-style, like the soldiers did in the old war movies my dad and I used to watch before he fell off our family tree. I pretended the sun was stabbing my eyes when Steven S asked if I was crying.
The rumble of bus #23’s engine was softer than an autumn leaf sailing on the breeze as it drove passed our empty bus stop. Come to think of it, I did see a cloud shaped like a baseball.
Image previously published.
If you actually read this whole piece, I appreciate your time. Thank you. I did have a great old tree in the park down the road from my house. We did play baseball there, kickball too. Washington and Lafayette did meet there and they did heckle us 😉
breath just out of reach
in the lungs
in the soul
her heart was tired
her eyes more so
those lovely fingers
nails thin and yellow
once strung delicate white lights
on every willowy houseplant
claiming the toasted-cream living room
a mechanical bed usurping
the mahogany coffee table
those vertical houseplants
into dying black irises
feathers and leaves usher her
to papa’s homeland
embracing over cobblestones
pattering bustling streets
inhaling baked flour
a bouncing soccer ball
little white lights dripping
warm bistros and red wine
I am home
I am home
I am home
May you dream of a full, beautiful life…
Tree painted about 2 years ago for Robin
Give yourself the freedom to imagine. Open your mind and hear the gracious wisdom of a tree. Spend a precious moment. History is gently preserved within its wooden clock rings. Deep-etched lines of warm bark, give rise to fantastical images.
Rooted in a tree’s very heart are magnificent stories there for the listening. Magic is all around. So I must ask my friends, “When is the last time you talked to a tree?”
Thank you. May you dream of having a tree party with friends.
Tree faces created yesterday while listening to the giant husband and big son’s football ruckus 🙂 Tree Root photo taken this past summer at a Newport, Rhode Island mansion. I thought the root looked like a slumbering child.
There is a tale I’d like to share with you for gentle thoughts heading into 2015. It is a story of life’s fabric wearing thin but the threads holding true. It is the rich tale of a poor farmer. His name was Happy.
And Happy Knew Here
Happy received his name upon reaching his fifth birthday. Until then, he hadn’t a name. His parents didn’t want to name him until they knew him. Happy’s family was poor. They survived by toil and love. The only gift Happy had ever received was a long, blue coat. It was made from a wealthy chef’s discarded blankets. The handmade coat wasn’t intended as a birthday gift, it just happened to be finished on Happy’s fifth birthday.
Each night after their son was fast asleep, Happy’s mother and father worked on the coat. Happy’y father patiently braided together dog hair, crow feathers and wheat stalks to make coarse thread. His mother then painstakingly sewed the pieces of broken blankets together. It was a long and arduous process. When they finally gave the coat to their son, he smiled. He was jubilant. He was Happy.
Happy’s mother and father’s lives were spent harvesting, selling and preparing crops for the long, cold winter months. The only rest they ever allowed themselves was a few moments each day when they’d sing to Happy beneath the shade of a magical Weeping Cherry. Now the tree wasn’t really magical, but Happy believed it was. The Weeping Cherry’s fragrant pink and white blossoms sparkled like starlight. The tree’s long limbs sheltered the family like a warm embrace.
Time and toil eventually took Happy’s parents to a place of everlasting rest. Happy continued working in his family’s field and finding rest beneath the starlight of the Cherry Blossom. His old blue coat, now a waistcoat, had survived many, many harsh winters. One day while Happy rested beneath the Cherry Blossom, his coat rolled up like a pillow beneath his tired head, he heard his mother and father singing. Happy’s life had been hard. Happy’s life had been long. And though he lived a solitary existence, he never knew loneliness. Happy’s blue coat had protected him. The Cherry Blossom’s limbs had embraced him. His parents’ love had filled his heart with peace and joy.
And Happy knew here, beneath the magical Cherry Blossom tree…he’d lived a rich full life.
Thank you. I hoped you liked my little story of a man named Happy. May you dream of peace within a warm embrace.
Happiest of joy in the New Year…
Robin’s Tree painted on request several years ago as are all requests for dear friends.
She howled through the blackest part of night
Her turquoise eyes inhaled the moon as her voice pealed across the universe
Her ivory-silver fur molded the shape of her song
Her turquoise eyes cried out for harmony as her language floated across the wind
She beckoned to the deepest part of light
The light of all living things
Over the last few days, I’ve seen two excellent conscience-bearing movies. Into the Wild, directed by Sean Penn is based on a true story. It’s a convincing cinematic portrayal of a young college-educated man who forgoes the trappings of society and our manmade shackles. His search for a ‘purer’ existence ultimately brings him to Alaska where he must attempt survival. The other film, The Eleventh Hour, directed by Leonardo DiCaprio lays out mankind’s future if global warming isn’t taken seriously. Both films left me thinking about how I live my life. They left me pondering my children’s futures if we can’t reign in our want, and stop treating nature as a thing to be bartered and sold.
Yesterday my post included a silly Christmas tree. For reference I’d snapped a photo of the delicate daughter crossing her arms. While on a sub break today, I was perusing my photos and stopped at my daughter’s image. I drew her sweet face during lunch. I pray the bright future reflected in her caramel eyes, is the bright future she will have on a beautiful healthy planet…
Thank you. May you dream of pure air and crystal water.
Delicate Daughter sketched today. Little Miss Green Apple below done with Prisma pencils several months ago.
Was it so long ago four little feet shuffled up the silent, curving driveway? The trees were especially kind that summer day as they cooled your bright bodies. Filtered sunlight painted dappled patches on your skin. You held your brother’s hand. Your brother held tight both your hand and his blue, plastic golf club. Our Shepherd guarded you both as if you were her own pups.
But as fast as the leaves left the trees, you both grew. Your feet wandering off that silent driveway and onto other travelled roads. Today, tomorrow or wherever your paths take you, keep in your hearts that dappled day when the sun was warm and the light was cool and we had a picnic lunch on the soft green grass…
Thank you and goodnight. May you count your blessings instead of sheep this night…
Have a beautiful weekend. 🙂
Delicate daughter and big son taken 2002 at our old house in the woods, zebras rendered in Prisma 2008