Today I learned that one can discern the size of a tree’s leaves by their sounds.
In my early 20s I went to the health food store to buy some miso and got reprimanded by the guy behind the deli counter. “There’s a lot of searching in your face.” he pointed out with righteous derision.
I just wanted to know which fermented soy product was the best source of vitamin B12. But he knew, by some magic face reading technique, that I was stuck in an existential question that seeped into each smaller question making every decision a near life or death struggle.
Twenty some years later I’m sitting under a magnolia tree writing a letter from my many question. It’s an ongoing letter to celebrate the potential of these queries. A journal you could say.
I fall asleep in the meadow after writing my letter then wake in the company of a deer stepping lightly through the grass several yards away and feel my letters could be answered by her softness. The new age face reader was not wrong, but he also wasn’t adept.
* * *
Yesterday it was ninety degrees. The days are slowly getting shorter. The trees and shrubs are at their fullest and the crows are leaving their nests to gather in large groups, filling the sky right above the avenue as if they might take a hard right at the next intersection.
Recently I decided to make my heart my art business partner and while I can’t explain to you how this works there is a lightness to my days. I know what to do. Some projects I thought were necessary are shelved and when I walk through my favorite neighborhood path up the stairs under a low canopy of leaves there is no need to search for redemption in the luxuriousness.
The crows are foraging on the forest floor. One juvenile screams at regular intervals. Another picks up a stick and drops it repeatedly.
Something startles the crows and they fly into the tree tops all at once.
Their soft black color is especially regal in the woods. As if they fly in the exact midpoint between a question and its answer, denizens of both realms with no need to make them separate places.
* * *
I’ve been angry lately. It’s such an unflattering story, this anger. But this morning I woke up feeling soft and tended to the ordinary. I folded laundry with the utmost care, attuned to the magnitude of dwelling lightly in my own neighborhood.
Then, I found in my shared house that there is a secret place in the early hours where I can sit with the flowers in the yard and talk to this anger. “What has it been like all this time waiting for someone else to think of you?”
* * *
Today it’s warm and the light is golden between leaf shadows. The squirrels chase each other up the rough tree trunks. The butterflies flutter about as if it’s no big deal to fly and people wander the trails queitly like shadows.
I sit with the trees and feel a peace between us. They knit oxygen and shade and house all my neighbors. I make carbon dioxide and silky shadows that carry sorrow, beauty and questions so I don’t have to leave them alone for the day while I act like someone else.
One evening I walked home to the sound of neighborhood bagpipes and it felt just like laying in the grass listening to leaves and melting into the earth. I lived most of my life with dust and shadows. My own body and aloneness because I never gave myself permission to sign on my own behalf. To trust that questions are like leaves and answers are whatever gravity and the wind agree to the day the leaf separates from the tree.