Friday, February 28, 2014

Old tree

Old Tree

Old tree in the woods, lovely dark and deep, what have you seen?
Clearly the oldest by far, two spans of my arms and, still, I can not encircle your girth.
How long have you been upon this earth?

Before the first white man came to settle, when the Indian lived and loved this land.
Surely, you grew - young then, proud and strong with branches like humanly arms,
stretched out in heavenly supplication.
Give thanks to the Great Spirit above for a moment in the sun.

Time is not kind to living things. It calls like the bell to all too soon.
Now, I see you old friend, as I pass by, tattered and broken, limbs fallen.
The scars of a rusted metal gate embedded in your bark,
A sign that some settler once homesteaded here,
Now long gone.

Today, your limbs home to owl and no one else.
Your trunk food to beetle, your burly bark once thick
Protected you from prairie fires, now discarded on the forest floor
The worn and ragged clothes of a beggar man
Tattooed upon your skin are the lines a woodpecker makes.
This is not a fitting end for such a majestic tree.

Remember what it was like to be young, if you can.
Did once an Indian and his pony pause beneath your limbs to gaze and wonder
at beauty of these woods so lovely dark and deep?
Perchance, it was a frosty morn and the tracks the deer left in the snow
Remind one of lips parted, whispering secrets
To those who do not sleep, to those who care to walk
These woods so lovely dark and deep
Have a secret - these woods belong to all

Time passes and a hundred springs and winters have come and gone.
A thousand deer have beaten down the path that I now walk along
Beside your once majestic figure

There are a hundred saplings at your feet. Do they stare up at you in wonder
Asking what lies beyond the bend, what lies beyond the forest in the clearing
Where the deer go to feed?

Are they curious, like me?

Or, do they merely wait their turn
Like you tree, like me to possess a moment in the sun?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Woods are lovely

the woods are lovely, dark, and deep

A walk in the woods on a snowy day always brings to mind Robert Frost's poem, Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.

The first stanza:
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
Robert Frost as the woodland traveler subtly questions the idea of owning the woodlands. Something this beautiful and serene should be enjoyed by all.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The sensible little horse, Frost's fellow traveler, gives his harness bells a shake. This shakes Frost from his queer notions. There is beauty in the wilderness, but the horse knows that it is the warmth of the stable and the food in the manger that sustains him. Civilization is the harness that keeps man safe.

And the poem ends with the thought:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Sammy and Tobie
Isn't life all about what happens in the middle.

Unlike the traveler in Robert Frost's poem, I am joined, not by a little horse, but by the dogs Sammy and Tobie. They find it not strange (queer) to be out in the bitter cold. They run, they play, they smell the rabbits in the snow, and, if they are lucky, chase a deer or two for a few hundred feet before coming back to me.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, and I kept my promise to the dogs.