The Trees are Talking. Shush, Listen!


“Trees can experience something like pain.  When a tree is cut, it sends electrical signals like wounded human tissue.” (p.54)
From now on, when I see a stump or damaged tree I will feel compassion and a desire to hug him/her as I would a wounded animal. I love reading material that changes my thinking and opens my mind to other realities. “The Whispering of the Trees” by Richard Grant is an article in the March 2018 issue of the SMITHSONIAN magazine. He writes about Peter Wohlleben, a German scientist who has extensive knowledge, respect, and devotion for the subject of trees. I want to read his book, THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES: WHAT THEY FEEL, HOW THEY COMMUNICATE. I loved Grant’s article with gorgeous photos by Diana Markosian. The photo on my blog is by my brother Cliff.  The cottonwoods seem to be conferencing on the Bosque of the Rio Grande in Bernallilo, New Mexico, perhaps complaining about the exceptionally dry weather this past fall.  They may be justifiably concerned about forest fires, a sad consequence of a mild winter with limited snowfall in the mountains.



img_1614“I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree…”  (“Trees” by Joyce Kilmer) There is this tree.  I pass it every day on my walks.  It is perfect;  even in winter when its bare bones reach to the sky scratching at the clouds.  I am looking at trees now, across the ponds on the golf course.  Big old craggy cottonwoods, heavy limbs bearing gold brown leaves left over from last year.  Trees endure.

I started my tree fixation about the time that Ken got sick. Between my care taker duties and the times when he was present and  lucid,  I painted trees.  Watercolor is my favorite medium.  I did a large painting of my favorite tree, the one I pass each day when I walk my chihuahua. I added some golden clumps of chamisa that pop up out of the desert late in August, for color against the muted green and brown. It is a fall painting, done when Ken was better and I was full of hope that he would come back to me.  When it was done he said it was my best painting yet.

Ken passed away that spring. Before he was sick we had hoped to go with our church family in October to ride the Durango/Silverton steam engine train through the southern Colorado mountains. I did not want to take the trip without him, but my friends convinced me to go.

Mountains and trees.  When I went through a painful divorce years ago I asked my father to give me his painting of mountains.  I looked at it often in my small single lady apartment.  Strong brush strokes from a firm hand.

The church van climbed steadily through northern New Mexico and into Colorado. I saw them for the first time as we approached Durango, aspens on the mountain slopes glimmering gold patches between the evergreens in the late afternoon sun.  I captured their images as best I could on my I phone. I would paint these in watercolor when I got back…something I could look forward to doing.

Shortly after I returned from the trip, Ken’s granddaughter called to tell me she and her husband had started the process of adopting their first baby.  This is a costly venture, so they were doing some fundraising.  One of their projects was selling T shirts.  It was a plain gray T with a tree printed in white on the front…a tree like the one near my house… at it’s roots, the scripture “Rooted and Grounded in Love.”(Ephesians 3:17).  Tree of life, permanent in an ever changing world. Ken would love this.







From My Kitchen Window

I am on a quest. I sit behind Don Quixote and Sancho waiting for them to lead me somewhere as I look out over my computer screen. I look down and see them looking forward across the pond and deserted golf course…4th hole , par 5. Before the property went belly up into bankruptcy, I watched parades of golfers go by. Heard their victory shouts when the ball sunk into the hole; watched them searching for it when it missed its mark; retrieved it once or twice if it landed near me while I was watering the roses. I tossed it back across, and someone was delighted to have it…what makes those small balls so important? Don’t mean to be snarky or facetious, but what is the meaning of golf, anyway? Don Quixote has been watching it for several years and I wonder what he thinks.

Photo on 2-12-18 at 8.57 AMI follow Don Quixote and Sancho from my kitchen window.  They are on a quest and I am right behind them traveling the world on my Mac or typing my own world into existence.  My father was fascinated by Cervantes’ strange and skinny hero who traveled the Spanish countryside righting wrongs and rescuing maidens. When dad passed he left me this house, this view, some paintings, and these iron figures.

I didn’t read the book.  But I did see the musical Man of La Mancha, based on the novel,  many years ago, on Broadway.  We sat up front, my ex and I.  Close enough to see the sweat on the actor’s faces and catch every nuance. Thanks to technology, I am again listening at this moment to Richard Kiley singing “The Impossible Dream.”  So many years ago, late sixties probably, I watched him standing alone on the stage, an angular, tall old man with gray beard, leaning on a sword.  It was the finale.  The audience stood, many of us in tears.  Silence for several seconds, the applause that followed went on through three curtain calls.  We didn’t want to let go.

Never let go.  When you stop questing, what is left?

New Mexico: Showing Off My State




My brother and sister in law from Massachusetts visited in early October for the annual Balloon Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  We had to go to Sante Fe, of course. Every visitor has to do that.  We took the direct route north on I 25. Stark mesas, distant mountains, empty desert spread out before us  far and wide on the 45 minute journey.

I am always anxious when guests take the time and expense to visit.  I love it when they come, but I also want them to see the beauty in the dusty   brown desert and the mountains, kinder, softer than the Colorado Rockies. I want them to try the chili.  I want them to be oohed and awed as I am when the Sandia Range turns coral at sunset and look like it could burn the night away.

Santa Fe was intriguing as always.  Art galleries, boutiques, jewelry stores, the finest  the Southwest has to offer,  Santa Fe oozes opulence.  I do not live there, I tell my guests, but I like to visit.  We stayed long enough to soak it in, for me to purchase my first and long desired pair of western boots (75% off $350.00… a steal!), and left by 3 PM to take the scenic route home through the Jemez Mountains.

My brother Cliff, the driver of the rented Jetta, lives life on the edge and did not bring sunglasses to New Mexico.  As we started climbing and experiencing the hairpin turns Cheryl and I hid our eyes from the blinding glare and the steep drops inches from the wheels of the car.  Cliff followed the signs to route 4 skirting the edges of Los Alamos and Bandelier.  Too late in the day to stop at these sights.  As we rounded each curve we prayed the sun would hide itself behind a rock, a tree, anything. It pulsated relentlessly at us. Until finally, as we passed the last electric fence of a Los Alamos secret lab, it mellowed into the mountains to the west.

We climbed higher as the sun set.  Pine forests and rock fortresses on either side of the road blocked mountain views until we came to an opening up of the earth,   Valle  de Caldera, a magnificent meadow carved out by the volcanic explosion thousands of years ago that created the mountain range.  I have passed by the Valle Caldera several times, I expect it to be there, but I am always in awe when I see it.  I did not warn my brother.  He gasped when he rounded the bend and saw it laid out. The sky was bright coral over the dark outlines of mountains framing the meadow on the west.  Cliff parked the Jetta, grabbed his camera and took the photo at the top of this post.

I had sold New Mexico. Cliff and Cheryl will be back with sunglasses to see the sites they missed.  By the time we got to the Jemez Pueblo and the red rocks that stun you as you navigate up or down the mountain on Route 4,  it was dark.   The chili, well, it’s an acquired taste and hard on certain stomachs.


Of Use

I was hooked on the novels of John Irving at a time in my life when I moved around a lot and had no close friends.  I recall driving route 70 from St. Louis where I had spent a comfortable five years,  to a new home in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where I knew not one soul other than my spouse, who would become my ex a few years down the road.  I had left behind my children, then in college, several friends, and the best job I ever had.  Cutting ties again, a five year pattern.  In the passenger seat of our Ram Van I turned the pages of Irving’s Cider House Rules.

I fell in love with the sweet characters blown about by the winds of time, like all of us. Homer Wells, an orphan, is the main character mentored by the good Dr. Larch who runs an orphanage/abortion clinic. As Homer grows from a child to an adult encountering coming of age challenges he keeps the phrase “of use” in the forefront of his mind. He has been well taught. In all circumstances, be of use.

And that was the challenge I had before me as I settled into a new situation. It took me awhile, but I found a way to be of use there, and everywhere I have been since then. As I age I find this a continuing problem. I don’t ever want to stop being “of use.” And this phrase takes on different meaning all the time. Now it means staying active, physically and mentally, trying hard to remain positive when there is so much to worry about, keeping strong for my children who are grown and parents themselves. For if I am not “of use” I am a burden. So being of use may be selfish too.

The question is in what way was I of use today? Nothing grand. I paid a bill and had lunch with a friend. I made spaghetti sauce and walked my dog twice. I bathed her too. Did laundry, cleaned the toilets, washed my hair…of use???





I almost had three very good days in a row.  And then my daughter called me. Some good news.  My son in law’s latest job interview went well, and we are hoping an offer will come from it.  Her voice became lower and slower. “I have some terrible news.”  I braced myself.  “Do you remember the family that lived behind us in our old house?”  She mentioned the name of the couple, but it was long ago. I felt relief.  This was not about our family. Gracie, their little girl, my granddaughter’s first playmate.  She used to come to the back door to see if Maddie could play in the sandbox.  I don’t know why…but I pictured a little freckle faced strawberry blond in a summer frock. “She died yesterday. She killed herself.”

The same age as Maddie, a high school senior.  They did not know each other well in the growing up years, after my family moved to another neighborhood.  Gracie, a beautiful name.  I am devastated by this news. What happened to this child?  I do not want to know the details.  How did we fail her?  It takes a village, doesn’t it? Families, schools, churches all of us.  I wish I could hug the little freckle face girl with the beautiful name.  My daughter lives in a suburban community 900 miles from me, but I feel the ripple effect of Gracie.  Right now thousands of people are in a tidal wave of grief.  And I pray that Gracie is in God’s arms.



Black Holes Suck

Last night I watched Nova, all about Black Holes. Science has eluded me and amazed me all my life.  I still struggle to understand  the physics  dumbed down to my size by young scientists with  contagious passion for their work.  The photo images of galaxies taken by the Hubble telescope were like the paintings of a grand master.  Distances expressed in light years  gave some comfort to me that our planet was not in eminent danger of being sucked into those gigantic vacuum cleaner hoses and flattened into a tortilla.  But the nightly news continues to remind me that armageddon is just a button on a desk in the White House.

I am reading the Psalms again.  Scripture tells me that none of this is new.  I look outside my window at a pond and trees, some ducks swimming across without fear.  It could all disappear in a nanosecond.  Right now I am so awed by creation that I don’t care.  I wonder if we will ever know what is inside the black holes?

Psalm 8:3-4  “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him,  the son of man that you care for him?”