Trees are seasonal storytellers. Intriguing beginnings. Cloaked in the middle. An inevitable pile up at the end. You wonder where the time went.
I conversed with my trees the other day, hauling the fractured limbs, plot lines from the recent windstorm, and engulfing myself in a dusty encyclopedia of leaves.
There’s always more to do when you own a yard. Flawless yards make me nervous, like some Norman Bates lives inside the house. Lived-in yards require remnants of reality be left to squat — a cornerful of spider webs, a clod of earth upturned by a bent mower blade, a water-worn fenceboard left to decay.
When I first bought my Clovis home 10 years ago, it was the last one on the cul-de-sac. Across a patch of dirt and weeds, I espied a farmer (that’s what he seemed to me, but that’s just a trace of who he is). He was allowing his chain saw to scold a tree in the perdition of summer. Against my callous New York City nature and chastised/encouraged by my wife, I grabbed a water bottle and clodded my way to say hello and wet his whistle.
Until more neighbors meant more fences and the Rubik’s Cube of life interceded, I’d see Rex and his wife Vee now and again. She’d stroll with the dog. He’d bring over a flat of fruit, and we’d jawbone. Mostly, I heard his tractor or his saw as he churned life into more decades of labor and joy than most of us get.
When the phone rang the other night, it had been more than a couple years since we’d spoken to them. On their homestead, over the fences and eucalyptus, around Thanksgiving, Vee had died.
One of my few joys in going to Sacramento to educate politicians is sitting amid the bonanza of trees outside the state Capitol. What stories they could tell, these patient eavesdroppers.
Am sure Rex will be talking to his trees in lonely days ahead. And, as I rake, a couple of hundred secluded yards away, I think of leaves now as less of a chore and more of a lesson. And I think that trees, books and lives open and close too quickly.