coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Affinity as a euphemism for belonging

A friend sent me the following poem. She knows I miss the trees that grew on our land when we lived in Upstate NY. 

The Mangroves
by Mary Oliver

As I said before, I am living now
in a warm place, surrounded by
mangroves.  Mostly I walk beside
them, they discourage entrance.
The black oaks and the pines
of my northern home are in my heart,
even as I hear them whisper, “Listen,
we are trees too.”  Okay, I’m trying.  They
certainly put on an endless performance
of leaves.  Admiring is easy, but affinity,
that does take some time.  So many
and so leggy and all of them rising as if
attempting to escape this world which, don’t
they know it, can’t be done.  “Are you
trying to fly or what?”  I ask, and they
answer back, “We are what we are, you
are what you are, love us if you can.”

I think about trees a lot.  I am thinking increasingly more about Central Florida trees.  I love the big shade trees that provide the forest canopy:  American Sycamores, Live Oaks, Laurel Oaks, Cabbage Palms, Southern Magnolias, Bald Cypress, and whatever the hell kind of pine trees those are.  There are many more. Unfortunately, I do not know what most of these native trees are called and it is frustrating to not know their names. 

I also think about the understory in natural areas; the smaller trees, palms, and shrubs that grow below the canopy trees providing the deep, dark, wild feeling to the woods.  Without the understory there would be no snakes, no lizards, no fairies!  Anyway, I especially want to thank who or whatever is in charge of creation for Saw Palmetto, Beautyberry, and Firebush.  Nice job!

We live near a really nice, long bike trail.  My husband, T, and I both have Electra Townie bikes.  I have heard them referred to as city bikes, or cruisers.  You can sit up fairly straight as you ride.  They are oldster bikes, and we love them. Mine has black and tan Hawaiian print plastic fenders.  I also have brown leather hand grips and seat, and a black mesh market basket for the front.  The basket comes off easily when we go to the Farmer's Market.  My bike is
très chic

The younger bikers speed past me on the left, hunched over on their sleek, fast bikes with uncomfortable seats.  They are going places, I can see that.  I am simply meandering along with the trail. 

At what point did I go from being a dynamic youngster to a daydreaming oldster?  I don't remember.  Age snuck up on me.  However, by the time I noticed, I was ready to slow down.  So far I am reasonably happy with aging, except for this unfortunate thing that has become my neck.  I am definitely happy with retirement.  I do not miss being in a hurry.  I enjoy having time to think.  As long as we both stay healthy and active it is a pretty good gig.

Occasionally someone on a fast bike will yell "nice bike!" as they whizz by.  I have to confess; sometimes I wonder if they are laughing at me.  That's OK, sometimes I laugh at what they look like in their biking costumes.  Nevertheless, I admire their energy.  I hope they get wherever they are going on time and I send loving and encouraging thoughts their way 'cause, you know, they are the future and all that.  I prefer to believe they are happy to see older people still active on the bike trail.  If they are lucky, someday it could be them on the trail riding an Electra Townie with Hawaiian print fenders.  Maybe they are lusting after my bike!  Yeah, that's probably it.  Bikers, for the most part, seem like a pretty decent bunch.

On our morning bike rides we go through beautiful natural areas that are being bulldozed and razed for new housing developments.  There are more and more of them.  It scares me.  I fear someday there will no longer be a canopy or an understory surrounding any part of the trail.  The large, old trees are the first to come down.  They once shaded the trail. Now more and more of the trail is open to the blazing sun because of the developers' lack of vision.  It is hotter than hell down here, we NEED some shade.  I do not understand people who only care about making a profit.

I guess a developer can make more money if s/he eliminates all the mature trees on the site.  That way they can lay out the ever bigger houses closer and closer together, without regard for trees or tree roots, which are just an obstacle to development if you think about it... 

The newer subdivisions have huge houses that are unbelievably close together with virtually no back yard.  There is no way they can have pools, or trampolines, or swing sets out back.  There is no room.  Oh Gee, now I am filled with anxiety about the future of humanity.  I need to take a pill, and quick.

When you have a very tiny yard you cannot plant large shade trees to replace the ones that were destroyed when the house was built. Not only is there not enough space for them to grow, it would take 20 - 30 years for them to reach a decent size.  Instead, the developers "landscape" by sticking in spindly palms here and there.  I like palms but a single palm tree provides virtually no shade and anyway, most people trim them to look like trees that belong in a Dr. Seuss landscape.  I would laugh if it didn't make me want to cry.  It cannot be good for a palm tree to be over-manicured like that.  They are trees, too.

If only it WAS mangroves I was seeing when I walked outside my house in this damn Central Florida subdivision! Mangroves are seriously interesting trees. W
hy couldn't our daughter, M, and her family have moved to the Florida Keys so we could have followed them there to be near the grandkids?  I could have passed as normal in the Conch Republic.  Plus, I always figured retirement would be my last chance to be an outlaw.  Yet another dream deferred.

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