When Old Becomes New

A delightful discovery this morning: three new trees planted along my daily walk path.

The sight stopped me in a near‐stumble. I jerked my head to the left, staring before snapping this once‐in‐a‐walk image.

Questions pounded my brain walls:

How long have these oak sprouts been here?

What made our tree police suddenly shout “Green!”

Did last week’s U.N. climate change report finally awaken city fathers?

Perhaps you remember the breath‐stopping removal of four trees from this same walkway last summer.

A mid‐July lightning bolt had zapped one oak tree, splitting it in two. It was a beautiful, natural strike. Destructive natural art remained. Tears followed.

Suburbia struck back in a wood frenzy, removing four trees in response to Mother Nature’s single zap. Where I live, we don’t remove damage. We play Whack A Tree. To ensure nothing stands in weather’s way, we haul in the Big Equipment and ground down the leftovers - all the way down to nuttin’, baby. 

In my new man‐made walking ground, I sought, and found, a gift: Starfish Bevo. See it/him? A horizontal figure on the right up there. Oak ground bits resembling quinoa. My new morning breakfast?

For weeks, I checked my little tree star every day. Then New Normal became Sidewalk Path. I forgot Loss.

Imagine my glee this morning as I stumbled onto this New New Normal.

Upon looking closer, my smile broadened.

Starfish Quinoa has a buddy. Shade.

Mornings like this urge me outdoors every dawn. Five mile walk, six a‐m start. 2372 walks since April, 2012. Yes, I counted.

I walk daily to remain healthy.

Today reminded me of a second reason: to see. When I opened my eyes — really opened them — I saw new life and second chances. 

Right around the corner surrounding a trifecta of trees.

How personal, meaningful can a little daily walk become?

Two for Two

Today I update my recent walking report with a riding one.

Do you remember the tree tale?

Oaks split by lightning — or old age — chopped then ground down to create something new. What, precisely is subject to a writer’s walking eyes.

Intrigued by my starfish observations, DH suggested a look‐see. Up close. From a wheeled perspective. I pulled up to the spot.

Where I’d spied sea creatures, my husband shouted a one‐word rebuttal: “Longhorn!”

I rebutted right back: “Bevo?”

My instinctive answer reflects a distant past at UT‐Austin. Four years of Saturdays at Longhorn football games ended with a national championship. An exercise in giddy jubilation. Even the big‐ass longhorn steer we called Bevo mooed for Earl Campbell and his big‐as‐log thighs as they hightailed into the touchdown zone.

Nowadays, you won’t ever see me at a football game. Multi‐level brain sensitivities—a blog post for another day?—preclude me from returning to that past. But ancient wiring lasts a lifetime, resurfacing at the oddest moments.

I digress. (This happens. Call it post‐menopausal privilege.)

Staring at the flattened remnants of the tree, my eyes studied the woody bits. No cow from this street view. I turned into the parking lot and there he rested, awaiting eyes that could see.

You win, DH. Although I will offer this in my defense: there’s a slight rise in the earth which hides Bevo’s devil horns. You know, like maybe it’s really an Aggie Bevo you’re seeing.

After our couple’s drama, I remained intrigued so drove to the other leveled trees. Could there be longhorns lurking there, too?

Here’s the tree mess I’ve yet to decipher. After working all afternoon to find a creative shape, I gave up on this old oak blob. So I invite your eyes to look.

What see you?

This simple couple‐experience taught me much.

To everything, there’s a learning. This one offered a quick class in New Ways of Seeing.

It’s worth looking again.

Inviting other looks.

Looking longer.

Capturing perceptions and sharing perspectives — both of eyes and I’s — enrich life and expand minds.

Isn’t this what life and the matrix — as illuminated two weeks ago — is all about?

Could this be the writer’s true mission?

Calling Starfish Quinoa

Remember last week’s photo?

Here’s an update:

Welcome to life in the suburbs where a single damaged tree merits the grass treatment. As in mow it down. Its two pesky neighbors must go, too.

While you’re at it, get creative. You know, like a writer. Leave behind a mutant starfish in all three tree places.

Zoom in on the first picture above to see the name on the brick block in the back center of this frame. It reads MATRIX. This word nerd thought immediately of Keanu Reeves and his Neo film trilogy. Taking it a step further (because it’s one of those weird info‐junkie practices of mine), I researched the word on‐line. Dictionary.com cites “matrix” as a biology term: “ground substance.” Chill bumps broke out — the exact new form of this old tree. So ground into the earth, I thought of cooked red quinoa. Can you see it?

Odd metaphors of wood and grains. Actually, there’s nothing odd or weird about my writer eyes. I call them Imagination. In the matrix, who knows what we’re really looking at anyway?

On a lighter note, a photo from a RoadBroad weekend:


No imagination necessary — that truck was pointing at me, but under tow away from me. Odd sensation to drive behind this. And a first in 45 years on the road.

Why I Walk

Observation.

The word beckons, two months — nearly to the day — after a life‐changing encounter with Sherlock Holmes.

This time, nature delivers on my daily morning walk.

Whoa! How did this happen?

No storms last night.

Not even a teeny gust of wind.

Curiousity moved me forward. 

Inspection reveals this tree half‐died across a lengthy period of time. It consumed itself from the inside out, internal erosion concealed beneath solid exteriors.

Disease consumes perfection, beginning its continuing work on lower limbs.

Yet in this ultra close‐up, Life returns.

A ring of healthy bark embraces a circle of green. Star of hope amid a rotting halo. It’s a wink to onlookers who search for meaning in the world surrounding.

Truth hides what the outside never sees. Does that make a lie?

Parallels to the writing world—stories, projects, relationships, life itself—scream back at me. I smile.

Ah, today will be good.

When nature speaks, she roars.

What happens when we see, then listen.

Ellen offered a single word to these pictures: wabi‐sabi. It was a classic “aha!” moment. Wabi‐sabi centers on (quoting Wikipedia here) the Japanese aesthetic that art marries “asymmetry… austerity…and appreciation of …natural objects and processes.”

At her mention, I remember “duende.” It’s a Spanish term for a passionate experience relating to an experience of art or life.

I proclaim Tener Duende for wabi‐sabi! That’s my Tex‐Mex version of ‘to have duende’ for this entire discovery of one vital broken‐yet‐living tree.

Now I know why I walk. To see what to write.

It begins with Observation. Yes, with a capital “O.”

I end on this offering. Dear Deer marked my final photo from the day I observed the living/dying tree.

Can you spot the tribal trifecta?

Papa stands at first base with Mama guarding on second. Baby, new to the fam and our neighborhood since last winter, remains puzzled at third.

I stand at home plate, awed to silence.