Lupus Alae

Spiritflights, fledgling and ancient


Dogwood & vine: Place-scaping

I need trees.

I've always known I was more affected by my physical environment than most; wall me into a huge city and I wither as surely as a forgotten houseplant. Give me a room with a balcony opening onto a gorgeous natural panorama and a barely-there walking path and I'm nearly beside myself with joy and awe. It never gets old...the beauty, the richness. And every place holds something new; the landscape unfolds before me with its own local flora and fauna, treasures to be scoped out and marked on the map in my heart.

Here, I find myself missing much about the landscape I grew up with and am so used to. The dogwoods, their
studded branches in earliest spring with buds of promise bending them newly into splendor and saying "watch this space!"...unfolding like a flower-patterned morning rain with their storied blossoms, gentle white or stunning pink...the striking red berries in magical-seeming clusters...the graceful leafy green overrunning the blooms before summer's zenith. Even their wintry thin arms flung toward vibrant blue skies and out to the world seemed hopeful and happy to me.

My favorite tree was a dogwood in my grandparents' back yard. I spent countless hours in it in every season; grew to know the bark like the skin of an aged friend, rough under my fingers and perfect always in my eyes. The tree had a great double fork about a story off the ground, perfect for two youths to converse in total (relative) safety. Often, though, it was only me there, and yet I never felt alone. The tree was truly a friend as well as a haven from the rest of the world. My grandmother had to call me in for supper so many times from that place; I often didn't realize it had gotten so late until I heard my name and "Come and get it!" in that manner old Southern women have made an art form...

That tree has been cut down, over my protests, and to my great sorrow. It was, in the eyes of the one who ordered it down, a threat to the house in hurricane weather. I mourned it as I might have any other childhood friend.

I even miss the tall, stately or stark (depending on who's looking) pine trees with their rich needles carpeting the ground and their cones that toughened little bare feet over the course of a season's carefree (and sometimes careless -- ouch!) romps.

I miss honeysuckle...that scent is home and being three or four years old, riding around the tree-crowded block over cracked sidewalk on my bike...smiling at the ivy spilling over the edges of people's yards...

I miss the highways with trees and vines, honeysuckle and kudzu and wisteria, clustered in close, arching over nearly to meet in the middle so that highways were 3/4 tunnel in the summertime and all you could smell with the windows rolled down was the greenness of "yes"...

I will say, however, that for all of the lack of real trees here where I am now, amidst the cacophony of bird-crowds that cluster overhead and must be heard, beyond and sometimes colored out of bounds all the way to the edges of the strange and pretty grasses brushed by the sometimes and then often winds, ever-rolling, Texas offers up some seriously magnificent skyscapes. There is more of everything -- patterned gray-white clouds backlit and choppy like sunset waves rolling up to impossibly golden shores, thick storm cover blackening at one edge and building toward rare rain, clear sunrises spanning this side of forever.

It is its own brand of beautiful, and I am grateful to have the generous sky to soothe my Nature-abiding spirit, though my heart is patchworked with dogwood and vine.


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