The Names of Colors

I wish I knew the names of colors.

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I know the basics, of course: Red, Yellow, Blue.

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The watercolor set that has sat unused on my desk for so many years provides some help: cobalt, ochre, scarlet.

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The colors of childhood crayons have remained in memory: burnt sienna, dandelion, indigo.

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But this autumn has outrun them all.

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The trees themselves seem to be competing.

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Even the little maple outside my porch has decided this year to join the game.

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And the evening sun conspires with them all.

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I wish I knew the names of colors.

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But I’m not sure there are enough.

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So May We All

I wrote this last year:

"Well, I made it to 65. I am grateful for the experiences along the way, especially the ones that ended up as stories, or may yet. So grateful also to the family and friends here and gone who made it such a rich unforgettable (I hope) journey.

When I started typing this, 65 came out as ^%; as I had the caps lock on. That may be a sign of the coming times, and yet appropriate; I plan to live life like the cap lock is on from now on. SO MAY WE ALL."

Most of us had no idea what 2020 had in store for the world, the human world anyway. My life, or the living of it, didn't work out as I planned, the CAP LOCK lock did not go on as I had enisioned it. But then that is true of most of my life, and maybe most of life. 

There is a tree across the way from me. It has a double trunk, split in two almost at the ground. One tree or two, I don't know. An oak or something else solid and strong. 

The right trunk is maybe forty feet tall, and leaves are just starting to bud. The other goes up thirty feet or so, where the trunk is twisted, and tapers almost to a point.  A tornado maybe came close and wrenched off the top. But I had not noticed until today that out of that ragged ending, slender branches reached a good ways, buds perched on the ends, just as with its twin. 

It reminded me of a time I was driving through Yellowstone, a year to two after fires had ravaged a third of the park. Beneath the blackened remnants of the pines, saplings beyond count had thrust up through the charcoal earth. Most were only inches high. But the forest was healing itself. I wrote this:

Seek the path
Of vital devastation.
In the white pines,
Spring forward.

So may we all, cap locks or no.

Pines website

 

 

 

 

 

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The Language of Trees

 
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The trees were winking at me this morning.
 
Or maybe it was morse code.
 
Tiny brights lights kept going on and off, as if someone was hitting a switch.
 
But irregular, like a cipher.
 
I finally figured it out. 
 
It was the light of the sun refracting through raindrops as the leaves moved in the breeze.
 
Nature speaks to us.
 
I hope we are listening.
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Tree Song

I don’t know why the caged bird sings. But I think I may have finally figured out why the others do.

I take walks every day down a wooded path behind my home. Sometimes so many birds are singing it sounds like a choir. Other times there are only one or two at each turn of the path. Occasionally the songs sound like a dialogue, sometimes a Bach canon. But most often the sounds are clearly ecstatic, a brimming forth of some secret joy.

I believe I have discovered the source of that joy. Each bird is singing about how beautiful its tree is. How delicately shaped each leaf as it twists in the breeze. How the broad canvas of the whole creates ever evolving shadows on the ground. How the Fibonacci architecture of the branches leads right up to the sky.

Birds never sing about what time they have to get to the bird feeder, or whether they need a bath, or the bird next door, or even that tree they saw two weeks ago. They only sing of the beauty in front of them.

Each bird sings in its own language. Birds are very smart; each knows all the languages of all the birds. But when they sing of trees they sing in their own tongue, the one they hold in their heart.

And when they fly to the next tree, birds sing about how beautiful that tree is. And I agree with them.

I have never seen a tree that was not beautiful, from smallest sapling to startling senior. And unique – no tree the same as any other– even the aspen trees (which reproduce by what is called root sprouting and are in a sense one tree) are genetically identical but never quite the same in appearance. I wonder sometimes if  the beauty of trees has something to do with their uniqueness—and if we were more aware of it in humankind, we might see more beauty in each other.

Do the trees listen to the birds? I think so. Do they appreciate the praise? I’m not so sure. The lives of trees seem unconcerned with birds, or squirrels, or humans. They have their own purposes in their long lives.

What beauty do trees sing about?

I doubt we will ever know.

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