I saw these wood planks there in November, just past the edge of the path, in the leaves. I stopped and puzzled over them. They seemed out of place but purposeful. Real hikers and runners (that’s not me, unfortunately, as I’m more of a slow walker) plan ahead. This muddy spot was far sloppier than you can see from the picture. And I was grateful to whoever took the time to drag those boards into the woods.
Pin oaks are odd. They keep some leaves til spring. The leaves are ugly, more like tree clutter than adornment. Limp lifeless dull rusty. Nevertheless, on a February day, when the sky’s gray, and everything around you feels dreary and quiet, the wind picks up a bit, and there’s a soft rustle up above. High above.
It’s something like a hiss.
Like frozen crystals brushing by in an icy snow, tick, tick, tick, tick.
Or maybe the scraping a towhee makes when it’s tossing sticks and leaves under brush on a summer’s hunt.
A little softer than the crunch of fancy tissue we bunch around a gift for someone’s birthday.
Yeah, the pin oaks shiver. And then they whisper to the wind.
___________________________________ photograph from january 18, 2020
I was busy with myself, getting settled. Thinking about this and that. I don’t really like the hand-shaking. Seems unnecessary, but it’s what you do. So I turned to the left. To a young girl, around ten. A tender age. And a face looking up to me with sweetness and a ready smile. Then the mom. Like her daughter, a smile full of joy. A smile that went all the way to her eyes and to the far reaches of her face. Yes, some faces wear a smile end to end, and that was hers. No averted eyes, no reticence. A full smile, eyeball to eyeball. And her face was radiant, beautiful in the most natural way. She wore a black wrap on her head.
I turned back to myself. Who knows what I was thinking.
Time passed and it was time for our row to get up. The father, dark hair, maybe in his 40s. The girl. And then the mother, using a cane. Her pants, khaki slacks, the kind with a gathered waist, were easily three sizes too big. Like she’d lost 30 or 40 pounds. She didn’t look strong, as if walking was a struggle. There are times in life when reality smacks you in a flash, straight to your core. I don’t know what we’re supposed to feel, I’m not sure I could describe what I did feel. It felt numbing, and stunning, overwhelming, sad, desperate.
We made our way back. I think her face wasn’t smiling anymore. But it was beautiful in the most natural way.
I know some of you don’t like winter. You’re ready for spring.
But me, I’m like a bulb, or a tree, that needs some cold. I need a dormant period. We know who we are. I know other people like me. Yep, some of us…we have to have some winter.
I do a lot of fall photos. Changing leaves, pretty scenes, all the colors. Lovely.
But honestly, I don’t like fall.
Other painful stuff.
Fall leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Like I’m trying my best to hold on to summer, and it’s hopeless. Like I’m not ready, I’m stubborn. Refusing. Refusing to turn my head. To what? To what lies ahead, I guess. Like a little kid who won’t take the medicine. Mouth shut tight. The head jerks left, then right.
But winter to me is fresh. It’s snowed in and pulling on the heavy blanket. It’s sloppy clothes and old movies. It’s night-time, and it’s dark, and it’s sledding down a hill with nothing but worn-out bell-bottom jeans and a floppy piece of card-board between your butt and that cold frozen ground.