... from a Garden


Moments from small journeys

Every day there is a journey — to bring in the morning paper, to pull out a few weeds, to put out the garbage, to water newly planted seedlings, to feed scraps to the birds. These journeys appear routine, unremarkable; but each brings some event or aspect of the world to mind — apparently insignificant, on the surface, trivial, perhaps, when compared with events enumerated in the news — but each with its own import.

Outside, things appear then disappear. Bud, burgeon, fall, rot. Something then nothing. Every day there is evidence of this. A petal has fallen. Here is a feather. There the remains of a bird, on its back, claws grasping the chill air. A beetle lies kicking its little legs, and the morning becomes Kafkaesque. A gnat struggles in a spider-web. (Most insects don’t live long. Cicadas sing but briefly.) In the fierce wind branches fracture, lie akimbo. Twigs scatter. The ground is littered with leaves. A rimy tangle of lichen is ripped from a tree trunk.

It would be easy to view the species that inhabit the small realm of the garden — both flora and fauna — as preoccupied with beginnings and endings; to ignore the unrelenting continuum, the diurnal and nocturnal, the seasonal, the annual cycles.

The life span of a leaf is short, a flower even shorter. That of stone is long. Somewhere between the two we exist.

A leaf becomes a memory of leaf. It evokes memories of other leaves. As actual leaves and remembered leaves coalesce they drift, impalpable, spectral. To have a dependable leaf — one which will not dry and drop and rot, one which, in its relatively immutable state, can stand in for and evoke other leaves — leaves of the past, the promise of future leaves, dreamed leaves, imagined leaves — there, perhaps, is solace: to observe, to cherish, to celebrate, with a small token, made from that earthly material — stone, worked to reveal what it may be willing to say, in order to hear afresh its voice in accord with the sense of this leaf.

Each is a note, a memorandum of a fragment found or a moment experienced. Evidence that the thing has been. Has happened.
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I observe the grace with which the natural world accepts each small event — events which we, in our self-importance, might term catastrophic — and am grateful to be surrounded with such a reminder of how we might be.

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