“I know who I was, I can tell you who I may have been, but I am, now, only in this line of words I write.”
When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.
A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.
So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”
“Remain in the world, act in the world, do whatsoever is needful, and yet remain transcendental, aloof, detached, a lotus flower in the pond.”
There are these ponds in the park at the end of my block. I think they are mostly there for flood control, but they look great. I’ve taken photos of them over the years.
The ponds are surrounded by hiking/biking trails – it’s on my work bicycling commute. I always enjoy riding past or around the ponds – except on the days/times that the trail is too crowded.
Not too long ago, I noticed a guy sitting by the pond watching his black lab out in the water. The dog wasn’t far from shore – but still the water barely came up to his dog knees. That’s when I realized the ponds are a lot shallower than they look. They must be silted full.
Sure enough, a couple weeks ago, as I rode to work, I noticed an orange temporary fence around the pond and machines installing huge sheets of plywood, making a road to the water’s edge on the other side of the pond. Then, some workers started visiting the pond all day and night, using big portable pumps to empty the water out.
Then came in the giant shovel machines to scoop out the black muck. It was so vile and watery they had to lime it and then stir the mix with the long arms of the shovel buckets to stabilize it enough to scoop it into waiting trucks. The smell was awful – that mud had a lot of grass clippings, trash, and who knows what mixed with it and it had been sitting down there underwater for years.
One day there was an elderly woman sitting on a bench with her tiny dog held in her lap. They both were watching the machines work – unbothered by the smell of the muck and the diesel fumes from the straining engines. Everybody else seemed to be ignoring the scene.
Finally, they seem to have finished. I wondered what the bottom of the ponds would be like – they were too big to be concrete lined. I forgot that there is caliche limestone only a few feet below the surface (that’s why nobody in Dallas has a basement) and it looks like they scooped some of the rock out (it isn’t very strong) when they made the ponds – making big oval saucer-shaped indentations in the earth.
The equipment is being loaded up – I guess they will start letting the ponds fill in now. The calendar says fall – but it’s still summer here in Texas – not sure how long until we get enough rain… we’ll see. When they are filled I guess they will look exactly the same as they did before. Deep water looks just like shallow.
“We can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don’t have something better.”
“but nothing I ever gave was good for you;
it was like white bread to goldfish.
they cram and cram, and it kills them,
and they drift in the pool, belly-up,
making stunned faces
and playing on our guilt
as if their own toxic gluttony
was not their own fault
there you are, still outside the window,
still with your hands out, still
pallid and fish-eyed, still acting
stupidly innocent and starved.”
― Margaret Atwood, Morning in the Burned House
I made it a point on the Stop and Photograph the Roses bike ride to swing by Fair Park. I love the Art Deco architecture, sculpture, and murals there. Plus, there is Leonhardt Lagoon, with the incredible 1986 walk-on sculpture by Patricia Johanson, Saggitaria Platyphylla (Delta Duckpotato).
“The lagoon was in the middle of Dallas’ largest park with four major museums along the shore, and it seemed a wonderful opportunity to convert it into a home for native wildlife—ducks, turtles, fish, shrimp, insects—by cleaning up the water and conceiving of landscaping as food. The “sculpture” was thought of as not just aesthetic, but rather a means of bringing people into contact with the plants and animals and the water.”
It’s interesting, but there really is a Sagittaria Platyphylla (Delta Duckpotato) – it’s a water weed. The only thing is, the real thing is spelled slightly differently than the title of the sculpture (one G, two T’s). I’m sure she did this on purpose – for something of this size, you want to get it right.