The snow mounts while the temperature drops.
The last of the living blue.
A live Blue Spruce. Vibrant blue green.
Have you forgotten the fragrance, the sweet sap, moist needles, the soft pastel color?
Now take a closer look.
Pin holes, running sap, slipping bark and yellow needles.
Another tree is lost.
The mountain across river, and the mountains as far as I can see from our little bit of paradise surrounded by a lot of wilds once were blue green. Now they are red and grey. Oh yes, still beautiful. I will always find beauty in these wilds, no matter what we go through together, how beat and burnt, stripped and stark, old and withered we both may become.
Some days it gets to me. Today was one of those days. Watching the next wave of dying trees lose their needles, lose their life.
Maybe you don’t see it. It’s easy not to see if you remain safe behind a desk, or just stop in the woods from time to time to take a look, and leave. But for those of us who chose to live amongst the trees…
This is my community.
And can I do no more than sit back and watch through beetles and burning?
And then there is hope.
A line of spruce trees barely taller than the snow is deep behind my cabin.
Forget titles and stereotypes and labels and names your big brother has called you. Instead I ask you this: Have you ever hugged a tree? If you haven’t, try. A really big one that takes three or four of you to wrap around like a Giant Sequoia, or a Ponderosa with a vanilla fragrance when you bury your nose deep in the warm crevices of her bark, or the big old Blue Spruce with pokey needles and sticky sap that stays with you all day, or the soft sensual smooth skin of a Madrone wet in winter.
I used to get attached to trees. Forrest and I would name them. Maps across the ranch and mountain, landmarks. You could plan your route around them, explain where you were, where you were going.
The last we named was Grandfather Tree. He was dying a slow death by beetles. We cut him down. A loud crash on a quiet mountain and the scar of his big stump remains. Now he will be a base log for our new home. A Giving Tree.
Gunnar and I cross the frozen river and listen to the whisper of the running Rio beneath. My snowshoes stay above deep tracks of a bull moose who broke trail into the woods. A tall, cold grave yard that still gives me comfort even in its empty embrace.
Snow already over my knees and the winter has not yet begun.
It’s not enough, this snow. This won’t change the drought. That’s what they still call it, you know. A twenty year drought. Not a change. Oh, no. Just a drought.
What will happen to this snow, sprinkled with dead dark needles to absorb the sun that now filters through the once dark canopy of tall stripped trees?
What will happen to these trees, these mountains of dead standing fuel no longer with a windbreak? What do you think their fate shall be?
It’s a package deal. The trees, the river, the rocks, soil, wildflowers and wildlife. The cold white winters and blustery springs, monsoon summers and flamboyant falls. This is the world I live in.
Yes, there are people too. They come, they go, they take what they want and leave no more behind than the winds can blow away and the snows will cover. Or maybe they do more.
It is for them that I write, though I try not to care, I do. It’s a package deal. People are a part of that package.
Because I want them to see what they cannot, do not. So I share with you what I see.
I have less of some things
More of others
Learning to let go of
identifying myself with
how many hours each day I toil
And still I must justify myself to you
for no longer
keeping myself too busy to think
Now is the time of
intentionally slowing down
Taking time to see
to smell and taste and touch and feel
Yes, now is the time to listen.
Hear the shiver in the wind.