There’s a mighty good tractor show in Dacusville, y’all. Saturday, Sunday, Monday, if I’m not mistaken. It’s worth a few hours’ drive if you don’t have plans. If I don’t see you there, have a great weekend.
Here is a poem I wrote sometime back around 1997, I think. There were never any publishers who showed interest in it, and I can maybe see why, but I still like certain things about it. Though not yet seasonally appropriate, this poem holds a kinship of thought with the vine appreciation some readers have expressed.
This November Crawling
November is the darkest month
ending still getting darker,
a year’s twilight spectacle of days
sheaved by final harvest need.
How brown, this month
of grasses left behind
in sun’s betrayal to
a lower hemisphere,
fields made brittle by
planet tilting cooler.
The earth shares shadow of itself
for longer nights,
gesture of balance,
undoing summer’s overuse of light.
And trees have quit their leaves
after chlorophyll’s demise,
opening forest shades
not to block what light may be.
This November is a lethargy,
calendar’s crawl on arthritic knees
through more darkness still,
gray and ice
like some vow broken,
toward distant, unhinted spring.
There was another time like this,
but better, less explained.
Leaves raked and dumped in the garden
would get plowed into the soil,
growling happily at the task–
but later, though.
Now, boys crawled through a field
of leftover summer weeds, tunneling,
their bodies mashing between
the tall woody stalks.
They were termites or moles or
any other burrowing thing
that crawled about unseen from above.
Beggar lice spelled unknown tongues
across bluejeaned thighs and shins,
flannel shoulders. Flannel was
a comfort to the skin,
its plaid softening scrapes
and moods, ripening affections
toward people who wore
that friendly lumberjack cloth,
The best thing in the world
was to find a fuzzy caterpillar,
turn it loose,
tunnel for more:
yellow, butterscotch, amber, black.
Late autumn weeds grew flat against the ground
where even dry dirt felt moist
in the cool.
Lying there flat like them,
boys breathed a sky into which
no birds sang, but a crow
flew stolen pecans away
to soon-forgotten secret places,
maybe finding them,
as if surprised, later.
Then crawling upon a gourd
never noticed in the foliage
of warmer, brighter months,
boys marveled to observe
this even-better treasure
than bottles and coins and arrowheads
kept at home.
It was one that got away
when the others had been picked
And the bigger thrill than finding
was in having been eluded
by a vine.
Pluck the cockleburs
from shoestrings and the dog…
time to wash up, sit down
and give thanks for leftover dressing and turkey.
It always was later than they thought.
Before crawling into bed
boys added to their prayers
to never plant a garden
Here is this year’s brief contribution to my August 23 Series.
With Some Thunder Moving Away
There have been rains which fell like many rains at once,
a crushing volume roaring without nuance,
beating every sound rain knows how to make
into the space of every second.
But last night the rain had time for itself,
touching the roof in arpeggios of casual calm,
like a friend deciding she had no need to rush away,
and I opened the window to let her come inside.
This afternoon I got a phone call from my sister, Andrea. That’s her in the photograph, in case you hadn’t figured that out. Anyway, she was, live at that moment, paddling a kayak across a lake in Seattle! It was her first time ever kayaking, and she called to tell me about it. She was on Green Lake — which I found on the map — and the boat was something by Perception. I could hear the paddle working as she held the phone between her shoulder and ear. And she did it all without dropping the phone in the water…of course I don’t know what might have happened after she hung up. That was fun.
Virginia Creeper is one of my favorite vines, and here it adorns the river with enthusiasm exceeding the reach of its tree.
At the end of this trip I performed a couple of timed sprints between the highway bridge and the railroad trestle, really pushing myself before I loaded up to go home. Between sprints, I saw another Virginia Creeper that turned out to be my favorite vine on this seven-mile paddle. When I tried to photograph it, though, I learned that my battery was finished. So I’ll have to show you that one another time, and hopefully that won’t be long.
When I was a teenager or young adult, I memorized the entire Biblical chapter of John 15…that’s how important it seemed to me. I am reminded of what Jesus said there whenever I see muscadines.
And I’m reminded of how perfectly they scent the woods as they ripen and fall. These will fall in the river if birds or insects don’t get to them first, their seeds floating along or flying away to start new vines in other places. Of course, I might go back and get them myself.
Muscadines and another variety of wild grape (is it fox grape?) are growing here. The tangle is beautiful, the exact kind of place you expect to see migrating warblers and thrushes feeding between flights.
A piece of woods might be a park or a jungle. In a park, the plants are well-behaved (or well-controlled), not touching each other below head level, but in a jungle the plants intermingle and compete and find their own space and relationship to each other. And vines do that better than just about anything.