The orange-gold of a Baltimore oriole lured our eyes to the very top of this incredible tree. From a distance, the branches formed a solid green dome. Like a leafy Cousin It, the tree kept its secrets to itself. Of course the imagined sanctuary created inside was irresistible. I had to find out what it was like to enter the heart of the tree. Parting those thick tresses, I stepped into a hushed sanctum. The light was gorgeous, brighter than expected, dappled and soothing. Bird whispers resumed. When my friend couldn’t find me, she knew exactly where to look. She found her own door into the sheltering umbrella of spangled green. We just stood there, awed, looking up and listening.
Norwegian poet Olav H. Hauge wrote a poem called “Leaf Huts and Snow Houses” that contains these parallel thoughts:
These poems don’t amount to much, just some words thrown together at random. and still to me there’s something good in making them, it’s as if I have in them for a little while a house. I think of playhouses made of branches we built when we were children: to crawl into them, sit listening to the rain, in a wild place alone, feel the drops of rain on your nose and in your hair –
Olav H. Hauge, translated by Robert Bly
Hauge was born in 1908 in a small Norwegian settlement. In Bly’s words, he “lived all his life on what he could produce from three acres of ground.” “The richness in his small house lay in the handmade spoons and bowls, the wooden reading chair, and the bookcases to which the best poetry from many continents had found its way.” Eighty years later, Hauge died “in the old way,” with no signs of disease. I was enchanted by Bly’s description of the respectful service, followed by this heart-rippling scene:
A horse-drawn wagon carried his body back up the mountain after the service. Everyone noticed a small colt that ran happily alongside its mother and the coffin all the way back up.
The excerpt from “Leaf Huts and Snow Houses” was found on page 264 of The Winged Energy of Delight: Poems from Europe, Asia, and the Americas, Selected Translations by Robert Bly, HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 2004. The photographs were taken at White Flower Farm, Litchfield, Connecticut, on 6/7/09.
This peony was at the perfect point in unfurling, cupping the soft light. Cricket Hill places decorative umbrellas over some of the blossoms to protect them from withering sunlight. (A bit sadly, this beauty had no real fragrance.) Called Coral Charm, it kept beckoning me back, luring me into its gold-fringed silence.
Click on image to enlarge. The photo was taken 6/7/09 at Cricket Hill Garden in Thomaston, Connecticut.
The other evening I went for a walk in the wind. Up the hill, the wild air had carried the flowers and loose petals of tulip trees to the ground. Like a pinata-spill, like a confetti-toss, the festive green and orange blossoms were strewn in the road, on the grass, and among the fallen leaves. Some detached petals looked like psychedelic moth wings. I stared up through the glossy foliage to the still-attached flowers, swaying and trembling in the late light. The wind played a hissing, whispered music to watch by.
I'm the author of Stirring the Mirror (2007) and Teaching Bones to Fly (2003), both from Bitter Oleander Press, and Domestic Weather (2004), winner of the 2003 Uccelli Press Chapbook Contest. My writing is anthologized in No Boundaries: Prose Poems by 24 American Poets, PP/FF: An Anthology, Graphic Poetry, Riverine: An Anthology of Hudson Valley Writers, and elsewhere. Additional author information and links to online work are in the sidebar. I'm also a visual artist. Except where otherwise noted, all art and photos are my work and may not be used without permission.