I’m sure I’m not the only one in the north who feels this way, but at this time of the year, I’m more acutely aware of change. Perhaps it’s because much of the change involves the leaving of things whose stay seems all too brief—the songbirds and buds of spring, the blossoms and fireflies of high summer, the fruits and colors of autumn. But winter brings other birds to the feeders, unveils intricate patterns in bare branches against the somber sky, gives different vistas of the lake.
There have been some changes at my place. My next-door neighbors came for a few days to check on things before winter. For the forty-plus years they’ve owned it, it’s served as a cottage; they live elsewhere. Now in their late 80s, they’ve decided they’ll soon be putting it up for sale. They don’t come often, usually spend only about six days a year, so it makes sense. But one thing that didn’t make sense was why, on their recent visit, the husband went out with his pruning saw and cut down the beautiful old lilac bush that stood between our houses. He started with the suckers, but didn’t stop until he had cut the entire thing down to a series of ugly stumps. Now, to be fair, I have to say that although it straddled the property line, it was his bush, his tree, really—it was nearly up to the eaves on my house, and had wonderful gnarled and twisted trunks. In summer it bloomed in deep purple and a shoot one white on one side. He said he planted it over thirty years ago. What possessed him to cut it like that I’ll never know, and I was too upset to ask. I was afraid I’d only sputter my anger out, and what would be the point of that. Perhaps he felt the need to revisit his younger days when, according to his wife, he was quite the gardener. I clung to that thought, that in some nostalgic way, it pleased him to cut the tree down to the ground; it was the only way I could forgive him for the act. Once he’s finished, he observed, “It’ll come back.” There’s a weak chance that, given enough time and care, it might, but he certainly won't live to see it, and likely, neither will I if it took almost forty years to grow it the first time. And it made even less sense since they’re going to be putting the place up for sale. There’s no curb appeal to stumps.
After thinking about this a while, I called them at their home and asked permission to remove the stumps and plant something in it’s place…now there is a nice little Colorado blue spruce standing where the lilacs once bloomed. I’ll still miss the lilac, especially this winter. It was where I hung my birdfeeders, and attracted lots of winter birds that felt safe feeding in the shelter of the mass of twigs. I posted photos and blogged about it a lot last year. Perhaps after a couple of seasons the spruce will be strong enough to support a feeder, but for now, it must simply grow.
After the new tree was all planted I walked along the breakwall, and looked for a familiar rock that always amuses me. It’s not a rock actually, but a chunk of an old sidewalk that someone named Don F (or maybe Don P, it’s hard to make out) wrote his name in. There’s also the number 15. Could he have stood over the setting cement as long ago as 1915? More likely it was 15th day of some month, decades ago. Whatever the story is, a new sidewalk has doubtless been poured, and the old one now adds strength to the divide between my yard and Lake Erie. And Don, wherever he may be, probably never wonders what happened to it. I’m the custodian of it now, just as I am of the little spruce. And perhaps I’ll be moving along one day, too. Change.
The Cloud Messenger (Meghadūta) is a lyric poem by the respected Indian poet, Kālidāsa. The poem centers around a yaksa in exile. Longing for his beloved, waiting for him on a Himalayan mountain, he asks a cloud to take a message to her. The sights he tells the cloud it will see on its way make up most of the poem.
The idea of recording observations appeals to me. I thought The Cloud Messenger was the perfect title for a blog about the journey that we all make as we move through our days.
I'm a baby boomer who grew up dancing in the streets of Detroit during the classic Motown years, lived beside the Rocky Mountains for many years, now retired and living (and writing full time) in S. Ontario. I have one blog for rock 'n' roll oldies, and one for nature, poetry and life along the Lake.