Thursday, September 20, 2007

FIELD NOTES: The smell of green has changed...

Through the window (Autumnal Equinox)

...maturing from newborn celery to supple chlorophyll, and now becoming tinged with the dry scent of brown. The grass cuts with brittle ease and dustiness, its aroma no longer robust and optimistic, but efficient as it redirects its energy in preparation for dormancy. According to the calendar, the summer season is over. Driving into the neighborhood, I notice a little boy intently pushing a colorful plastic mower as his daddy works the big machine. When his enthusiasm will end is unpredictable, but it is certain that everything he plays at now will one day become work as he moves through his seasons. As I move from one season to the next, I look with trepidation at tree debris and closets and storage bins. I want to relish all that seems so God-given in New England - woodland walks and harvests, pies and applesauce, campfires and hot cider, stoops arranged with still-life’s of pumpkins, mums and scarecrows fashioned from old clothes stuffed with leaves – but the preparation frenzy takes over like a wicked witch, the threat of the first frost breathes down my neck like a haunting ghost and I fret that the house will not be prepared for hibernation. But why? Nature is designed to occur rather than to be monkeyed with. No one rakes the forest floor. The harvest simply happens; fruits and vegetables can fall without us. No one tells the flowers to die; they take their cues from thin air. The whole of nature marches, no, processes, while human systems fight the ebb and flow, making us soldiers in battles of dubious importance, prompting us to conjure up inventions like the treadmill and stir up trouble with the climate. If I were following my nature right now, I wouldn’t be thinking about the lawn, I would be slicing Cortland’s for a French apple pie or falling into the hammock with the Sunday paper or a book. By the time that plastic mower wears out, that little boy won’t have to worry about fixing or replacing it; he will be too old for it. He will begin to discover himself and rebel at mowing the lawn, refusing a mother’s request. Then he may move to the offer of mowing – for a price – because the boy down the street gets remuneration. But one day he may notice the length of the grass, do it without being asked and perhaps receive a homemade apple pie as ‘remuneration’ - also without being asked. I wonder if he will be able to balance the voluntary and the required, to not tip the scale too much one way or the other, to gracefully redirect his energy and embrace the flow without the fret, remembering the plastic mower and noticing that the smell of green has changed.

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