Sunday, November 18, 2007

FIELD NOTES: I have dreamed of feasting out of doors ever since I...

The weekend before Thanksgiving, 2007

...built a 9 foot-long table out of the old deck some years ago. After mixing 50 pound bags of cement, leveling landscape blocks, hauling gravel, patterning pavers, adding a fire pit and renovating the kitchen herb garden, my ‘banquet table’ and I found our so-called ‘happy place’. But while it has either been too cold, too rainy or too inconvenient to gather there for Thanksgiving, I still envision at least the post-feast coffee curling in crisp air, a fire just big enough to warm fingers, toes and noses, while we eat warm pie from porcelain plates – homemade fruity mince laced with rum, apple crisp, and the pumpkin topped with whipped cream that tastes good only on the third Thursday of November. Right now my table is leaf blown, acorn littered and the only ones feasting are squirrels and birds. The little spigot fountain is wrapped for winter and the sun umbrella is back inside the shed, but I ‘tsk-tsk’ over the debris that I didn’t get to because there will be more than I want awaiting me in the spring. The weather does not cooperate with my schedule, so all I can do today is make pies. All I can do today is watch the squirrels and birds enjoy themselves. All I can do today is abide with what I can harvest.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

FIELD NOTES: I heard it falling before I saw it...

The top of November, 2007 I walked in Harrybrooke. A huge limb in the woods beside the railroad tracks caused an old childhood riddle to come to mind, the one that asks if a falling tree makes a sound if no one is there to hear it. The cascade of crackling ended when the other trees held up their arms to stop the descent. A recent New York Times article spoke of the new controversy among marathon runners and the banning of headphones at races. Not being a marathoner, I won’t take one side over the other, but I myself don’t walk with headphones because walking is a chance to hear what is around me and to listen to the rhythm of my own breathing and heartbeat and footstep. And what about my footstep? Is it too big? Can we keep the marketing world from gorging themselves on this new idea of reducing our ‘global footprint’ and make it a positive societal change rather than an American fad? If I cannot save the world, I can walk gracefully. I can grow tall enough to see above the short-sighted and at the same time I can reserve judgment on the easily judged. My personal priorities are my personal priorities - no one else’s – and vice-versa. I do not have to have the aspirations of a meteor or a dinosaur to leave behind a big impression. I can be the first frog or turtle or fish of springtime whose ripples delight and then disappear. I can erase my tracks as if walking with the brush of a pine bough behind me. And when I crack and begin to fall, I can hope there will be enough arms held up to stop my descent. The woods changed their footprint today. And I heard it.