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Entries in trees (5)



I got rear-ended on the way to pick Ezra up from school one afternoon last week. The other driver and I pulled into the nearest parking lot to inspect the damage. She didn't speak much English and my limited Spanish is rusty at best, and particularly useless under the circumstances.  I did understand, with complete clarity, what she was saying when she looked at me nervously and asked if I was going to call the police. The damage was minor and I had no desire to get the police involved so we agreed to let our insurance companies sort it out.

The accident happened near my house, a momentary collision of two worlds. We orbit the same neighborhood, but different universes. We are hermetically sealed inside our cars, our ethnicities, our classes, but a split second of dropped guard punctured the thin membrane that separates our experiences.


I received word last week that the daughter of a former colleague died. She was 23, grown into young adulthood in the years since I spent time with her. The speakers at her memorial told stories of her spunk, courage and independence in the face of Muscular Dystrophy. Speaker after speaker told stories of knowing her since early childhood, or of decades-long friendships with her parents.

The service was at turns somber, funny, and reverent, inspiring in many ways. I was most moved by the evidence of the strong and supportive community in attendance, the sort of web that is always there but becomes most visible in times of either crisis or celebration.  It struck me as tanglible proof of a life well-lived.


I spent the weekend in the mountains with the makings of my own web. Friends I've worked with for years. Friends Will went to undergrad with, through whom we met. Orbits that intersect, over and over, and loop back in on themselves as new people get introduced to the fold. Our children are now friends.

This was an annual celebration of community one of our own throws each winter.  Food, drink, snow, merriment, an overflowing house.  The gift of time to crash into each other all over again.

Perhaps it is not a web that connects us, so much as a vascular system.  Tiny capillaries that weave through the membranes between my inside and my outside, carrying in nutrients and oxygen.  Carrying out the waste that builds up when I spend too much time in my car, or in my head.  Bringing me, crashing, into the world.


Time Machine

206.365 160mm f5.6 1/160 ISO 200I noticed the bees swarming our crabapple tree when I got home yesterday and, well, I couldn't resist that.  As I tried to capture that springtime rite (those little suckers are fast!) I realized that through this 365 project I have learned the life cycle of this tree more intimately than I have in the whole time I've lived in this house.  I have trained my camera on this tree for six months now, but as I looked back over my photo library I saw that I haven't yet posted any of those pictures.

So today I'm posting a gallery of this tree over the past three seasons, a look back at the tree, and at me noticing.  And, while we're at it, an appreciation of the camera as time machine.

November 9: early frost on a fall leafDecember 16: orange berries in the winterDecember 16: first sight through a macro lens (be still my heart)January 8: On this one day birds came and ate every single berry on the treeFebruary 12: completely nudeApril 1: first leaves of spring

April 15: soon we'll have flowersApril 23: new flowersMay 1: pitter patter


Backyard Popcorn

198.365 50mm f3.5 1/1600 ISO 200We planted this cherry tree in our backyard in the months after we moved into this house six years ago.  In the spirit of What else is it? I told Ezra and Will that this spring it looks to me like a popcorn tree.  (Of course, if it really were neither of them would come into the house until it was completely bare.) 


Redeeming Value

189.365 50mm f4.5 1/60 ISO 200This tree was in our front yard when we bought the house six years ago. 

Honestly, I hate this tree. 

The tree has a strange growth habit which has steadfastly refused to yield to any training urge we have tried to impress upon it, even those we have attempted to enforce using pruning shears.  It also happens to be red - the leaves, the bark, the tiny little plums it bears.  That would be charming but since it's the exact same color as the house, it loses some of the punch a red tree should pack.

BUT.  Since I'm busy noticing details, I should note that at this time of year I forget I don't like this tree.  It gets covered with tiny red and white flowers and instead of cutting it back and digging it out and planting something better it its spot I go ooooh, look at those pretty flowers.  Maybe it'll be better this year.

And that is how the tree has survived the first six years of our residency in this house.

P.S.  A friend from home who lives less than a mile from the place I took this shot in December reports that a tornado touched down there in the big storms that swept across North Carolina on Saturday.  The barns and the subdivision were destroyed.  The old white house still stands.


Y-Chromosome Club

110.365 18mm f3.5 1/60 ISO 400I married into a family thick with boys.  My husband is one of three brothers and of all the kids they've offsprung, only one girl has managed to sneak into the party.  On a possibly related note, engineering and science interest and aptitude runs high in this clan and when we're together there are usually rockets and air cannons and screwdrivers on the docket.

Yesterday a plan to count some tree rings was hatched.  But what really got the boys' attention, as always, was the power tool. 

I'll admit, I don't really get the fascination.  But then, I'm not a member of the club.