Tuesday, November 28, 2017


Save for a few dead leaves caught in its joints, and a few tiny undeveloped fruits attached like nodes to its extremities, the fig tree is bare. The coloring of the branches changes with the temperature, now green, now gray. The whitish blotches on its skin are like age spots, with patterns and lichens and lumps. The tree is both woman and man. Behind the tree is a little shed. Behind the shed are the neighbor’s fir trees, which bury us in needles and branches and cones. Rectangular steps, planted in a gentle curve, lead from the house to the shed. They are covered with moss. About midway along the path, some of the stones are pushed up by a large fig root. This is on the west side of the tree. Other large surface roots radiate all around. There are mushrooms, too. It’s a fairy tale world. Wind in the firs. There is a very old bamboo chime hanging from the fig tree on the southwest side as you near the shed. I love its hollow sound. I think my mother put it there, although I might have been the one. But I know she is the one who first brought it home. The wire it hangs from has long since disappeared into the wood. And so it is like a little temple back there.


April winds —
look up from your prayer,
spring has awakened
the temple bells.

Songs and Letters, April 23, 2008


*** said...

A path of words that leads us through your garden temple and seats us at its sensory table to feast!

We enjoy our neighbor's bamboo chimes. We have several sets of metal chimes - one with perfect pitch, the others - perfect in their own way.

No fig trees here, so I'm delighted to come to know yours so well. We do have the sycamore with its mottled, towering carcass of winter-whites. Each variety of tree - just as it is with every person - a legend of sorts if we bother to look and listen.

The sycamore I refer to is not in our backyard, but we see it when we look past our barn and onto the river. In early autumn, when the late afternoon sun strikes the yellow foliage just right, we have to wonder how there could be so much gold this side of the rainbow.

We walk by a small stand of fir trees... I suppose it's more of a row than it is a stand, but 'stand' feels to me like it lends them the stature they deserve. I'm often tempted to lay down on the umber carpet. Maybe one day I will. The needles look so soft, but you may know them to be otherwise.

These particular trees have been cozied-up to the old 'rotundaesque' mansion that long, long ago was a nursing home - back when nursing homes were more about care and less about money.

curved path
moss blanket stones
anchor root architecture
mushroom umbrellas

Thank you ... I'm too full for dessert.

William Michaelian said...

Wonderful! I was hoping you’d write a letter. My wish came true.

There were some lovely old sycamores in our old hometown in Central California.

We have two metal wind chimes — a small one my mother brought home for herself, and a much larger one she gave to me back in the mid-Nineties. Both are inside in one of my book and family photo corners.

Yes, fir needles are very soft — until you lie down on them. But it’s a great way to meet carpenter ants!