The last of the living blue.

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the last of the mighty rio grande

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White washed.

The snow mounts while the temperature drops.

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yellow needles

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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?

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dead tree

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And then there is hope.

Baby Blues.

A line of spruce trees barely taller than the snow is deep behind my cabin.

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baby blue

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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.

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bark 2

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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?

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needles on the snow

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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.

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sap and slipping bark

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Look.

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

And listen.

Yes, now is the time to listen.

Hear the shiver in the wind.

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the rio grande freezing

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6 thoughts on “The last of the living blue.

  1. The people who open eyes, ears and hearts are themselves very delicate. Often the words can’t escape except through their broken hearts. Thankfully, you gather yours and feed them to those of us blind and deaf.

    A Canadian Maple knows all my secrets. She’s very wise. When I’m caught leaning against her, drawing strength and feeling just a little silly, I smile and feign fixing my camera.

    • Delicate like down beneath my rawhide cover. Yes, I try to not be fragile. No, I shall never be as tough as I wish I was.

      I have learned more from you already, Amy, than I may ever be able to share with you.

      And I’ve never known a Canadian Maple… I look forward to that.

  2. Not that I would want this to go to your head or anything… but I am going to use this poem, because to me what you write is poetry, with an Afghan student I am teaching on a voluntary basis through SOLA.

    She’s in Kabul and I’m at home in Gdansk, Poland. We skype. We have been discussing nature recently and what you write is like a painting in words. I think she will be able to relate to it. Thank you for your words. And for your photographs.

  3. That was awesome Gin. Thank you so much. I know of the line of baby spruce you’re talking about. I was there when you planted them.

Thank you for your interest in Gin's writing.

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