Since this grows along the fence line of the Daily Walk,
I often stop to see what subtle beauty it has made.
Today, I particularly noticed the lichen on all the slender, dying branches.
The soft colors and patterns of lichen are lovely, and often seen here in our local woodlands.
For those of us who will never be able to live in a cabin in Alaska, John Haines is a writer who can assist us in thinking about what that would be like, and what results being alone in this way might have on our person, soul and attitudes. I have rarely hoped to do anything that adventurous, but am drawn to these books as if they were the best chocolate candies. Haines was the poet laureate of Alaska, and his books are widely available in libraries and bookstores, although most are not yet available electronically, which is a crying shame.
Sometimes I envy those
who spring out like great black-
before the crowded feet
of summer --
like pieces of the sun,
they are remembered and celebrated
long after night has fallen.
But I believe also in one
who in the dead of winter
tunnels through a damp,
nosing the soil of old gardens.
He lives unnoticed, but
deep within him there is a dream
of the surface one day
breaking and crumbling:
and a small, brown-furred
figure stands there,
blinking at the sky,
as the rising sun slowly dries
his strange, unruly wings.
John Haines (1924-2011)
from The Owl in the Mask of the Dreamer; collected poems,
Graywolf, 1993, page 11.
The mole, like the lichen, is one of those small things the contemplation of which makes for
a very satisfying relation to walking-about-in-the-world. Of course we are attracted to the tigers and to the great unfolded peonies, and those mighty rewoods. I've only seen moles twice, one was being played with by a cat. I could see why it was called the Star-nosed Mole. And a few years later, when we were having a crabapple tree planted; the digging of the hole was uncovered a nest of tiny pink mole babies.