Reading through old emails, I came across this description which I love, entitled:
They are all over the ground, masses of them in damp earthy profusion. All over our yard. I love the smell of them, the moistness, the damp earthiness. The orangeness and yellowness of them. They are muted, not too startling, but sophisticated. Like the color of my favorite dress.
It rained last night and the tree trunks are wet black in the morning. The grass green, what you can see of it under the masses of leaves.
Why should people rake their yards? The leaves are much prettier spread out. And they work themselves back into the soil during the winter, just the way they are meant to. Green, green, green, back to the earth. We all want that, right?
When I was a little girl, one of my jobs was watering trees. Dad planted rows of them, along the edges of our yard. He planted the soft maples, the faster growing variety–they are huge full-grown maples now. And he planted the blue spruce that line one side of the lane. On the other side there is a row of lilacs that have been there for years and years, from back when Mom was a girl. There are probably ten of them, abundant leafy things that reach their glory for one short week in the spring.
Through the years, Dad has continued to plant trees. A few oaks. A few popple. A few black walnut he brought back from Indiana. A flowering crab. The spruce trees I mentioned. Apple trees, down below the barnyard. And maple trees by the dozens. In spring, our leaves, our flower beds, our walkways, everything is covered by those winged maple seeds. And finally even Dad will concede that we have enough trees.
There are definite benefits to living in a woods, instead of a just a simple yard, like most people. Privacy is a big one. Even our sharp-eyed, interested grandparents a short walk up the road can’t observe our comings and goings as well as they used to. And the trees are beautiful, if you like trees. I do.
When I am sad, I lean against trees, and when I am in distress, I pray beside them. When you look up through trees, you can see the sky. And that makes me think of God. And when you look down, you see the roots and the deep earth that holds them. And the tree just breaths, standing deep within its roots. Whispering sometimes, bending, sighing, but serene. The dark earth, the blue sky–and the tree is only the medium stretched between.
Of course, there is a downside to living in a forest instead of a yard. Mosquitoes, mostly. They come out by bushels in the spring. A romantic thought of reading beneath the trees? Of sitting beneath them as twilight falls? What with the mosquitoes, I usually last about ten minutes. And mowing? A royal pain. Trunks to mow around, most of them with gashes somewhere on their knobbly sides, because at some point in their young lives they were ravaged by the sharp red edge of a lawn mower. And sticks in the yard. And pine cones and walnuts and the bushels of scraggly winged maple seeds.
And so it ends, rather abruptly. I won’t include the rest of the email, which is on a different subject altogether. Instead, here is a picture of my students on a recent school hike in the autumn leaves.