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Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Whitehead skyscraper

It appears our mini-monsoon has passed, leaving us with warm days in the 70s, just enough breeze stirring to keep the air moving through the house from window to window. I've come outside to write you today because the air is so favorable to sitting on the porch overlooking lawn and meadow, Highway 18 and a mountain the other side.
I'm looking at three locust trees growing near the fenceline to the eastern meadow. Something I noticed painting outdoors, the outline of a tree is shaped like the outline of a cloud. Trees are composed of water flow just as clouds are. Water flows in spirals; you can see in an old tree that's been dead for many years, bark long gone, the tree trunk down to bare skeletal bone, the flow lines in the remaining wood make a slow spiral. Our bones have flow lines that spiral too. We're something like 96 percent water or more.
Every living thing is created by the principles of water flow. Rivers flow through the land like blood flows through our bodies. Water refreshes life on and in the earth like blood refreshes life in us. We have internal filters for our blood, like the liver. The clouds are filters for water on earth. The sun causes water to evap-orate and rise into the air where it condenses and makes clouds that then rain and refresh the earth with clean water, all impurities left on the ground where it came from.
Cars, pickups, trucks and motorcycles travel the highway this-a-way and that-a-way. Loaded logging trucks run both directions. I see a dozen yucca stalks in full bloom with their waxy white flowers along the edge of the meadow down the bank from the highway. Years ago somebody planted yuccas, evidently for the long spike of a taproot, along the steep and high bank between the Primitive Baptist cemetery and the highway at Pine Swamp Road. Wind currents, I suppose, carried yucca seeds up the wind-channel of the highway through there, because small clusters of them grow alongside the highway in both directions from the cemetery.
Mowing machines are rattling all over the county, hay rakes kicking up bugs for the swooping swallows to catch, bailers picking it up and putting it down in big round bales and smaller box-shaped bales. It's a good year for hay. It's a good year for the entire green world with plenty of rain, and most of it so gentle it soaked into the ground with minimum runoff, until the gullywasher came along we hadn't seen in at least a dozen years.
Jr's sawmill continues to wait for him to fire it up and set its wheel in motion again. It's been waiting almost 10 years for him to bring it back to life. It stands among all kinds of volunteer shrubbery growing around it and through it. Old logs lie on the ground going bad. Rust has overtaken the steel parts. Like its operator, its work life has come to an end until somebody buys it to bring it back to life. But it's not for sale.
I hear crows barking. One flew into the sycamore tree. Another joined it in the sycamore. Another perched in the locust trees I'm facing. They're barking back and forth to each other. The one in the sycamore is looking at me when he barks. They see apple man. The one in the sycamore flew down to the place I throw apple cores. He's marching around looking in the grass, barking to the others. They bark back. In that exchange I heard four different tones of the sounds they make. Sometimes it seems like one will call out asking the other to identify its location and the other will call back to report its whereabouts. It seems like they sometimes call each other to let the others know where they are at any given moment.
As I pay more attention to them I see they are connected with the others in their family by call and response. Mostly I see one, two or three crows at a time, though mostly they're solo. When one calls out, others return the call from different directions and distances. Perhaps it keeps them knowing where they are in relation to the others. The one searching for apple quit barking his location. He walked down the driveway to the road, looking in the grass. When he gave up looking for apple, the barking exchange ended.
One flew into the sycamore tree. Then he took off and sailed downhill over the meadow to the west. I see a long jet trail running north to south in the sky. It has been there so long it's almost becoming a cloud. It looks like a long spinal column. I heard on NPR news years ago that when a plane flying high enough to leave a trail flies in a circle, the trail will close in and become a cloud. I think it was one man's issue with the jet trails claiming they're bad for us. That was years ago and planes continue to fly, so I doubt his Chicken-little sermon went very far. I'd like to see it happen.
I hear a cardinal in the distance, a song sparrow and various other birds, a wren, in the distance when the highway is between tire sounds. It doesn't seem like the tires are so loud until I listen to the silence. It's a deep, profound silence where I can hear for quite a long ways. I hear a chainsaw in the far distance, quieter than distant bird song.

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