Saturday, March 27, 2010

Midwestern Spring: The Long View

I stopped to take several photos of this fellow as I walked from Laceyland to Hazelthorne.  Judging from the chattering and tail-twitching, I think he (?) found me to be a bit of an intrusion.  This impression was strengthened when I turned my back to leave and was hit on the shoulder by the walnut shell you see in his mouth.  Little bastard. 
Facebook friends will have already seen this image, but I just love the colors.  Purply-red-orange-brown, that's one of my favorite categories.  Autumnal and Winter landscapes tend to have it a lot.  Those are black raspberry canes; once Springs shows up in earnest, they will disappear behind walls of bushes almost as formidible as they.  Human beings won't be the ones eating those berries.  My family knows of several other, more accessible patches though. 
My first three years in New York, I lived in ten different locations.  Fourth in the series was a four month sublet with classmates in West New York, NJ.  Yes, that's the name of the town.  And yes, it does have a view of New York City.  I was initially disappointed to learn the only way to get there was by bus, either NJ transit or gypsy, both leaving from the Port Authority.  I soon learned the buses were dependable and constant, and eventually I began to enjoy the trip, especially out bound.  One of the principle pleasures of the home journey was the experience of coming out of the Lincoln Tunnel and heading up the ramp to Kennedy Boulevard, where one got a view of Manhattan.  That was a fairly tumultuous time in my life, and there was something so soothing about being able to see the city as a whole OVER THERE, and realize I could leave the tension, questions, and undifferentiated frenzy of Manhattan life behind for the day.  The literal change in perspective provided a nice metaphorical one.  Things just weren't that big a deal.  Even now, whenever I leave the city through Lincoln Tunnel, I can feel a nice drop in blood pressure upon exiting.

This trip back to Indiana, I finally realized this wasn't my first time using this technique.  While attending Earlham, when things were feeling especially fraught, I would, far too rarely, take a walk back campus.  More than once I would get to the view seen above, where the college was all easily contained in my sights, and think "wow.  It's just NOT that big a deal."  Whatever 'it' might have been at the time--and if you think I'm overly ruminative now, imagine what I was like between the ages of 18 and 22--this visual trick was always therapeutic.  It was a lesson I had to relearn at regular intervals.  As far as I can remember, I never walked back there to have this experience, I'd take the walk for some other reason (looking for violets, wanting some exercise, feeling a bit caged) and the view would hit me as if for the first time. 

I don't get out to West New York much, and though I have started to collect parks in the city where I get some long vistas, I'm remembering now how good it is to get visual perspective on the city as a whole.  I'm going to Dumbo later today, to see a show (Bette Bourne, of Bloolips fame is telling his life story!) but I'll be sure to make some time to look at the city, and shrink it back down to its proper size. 

This tree has been rendered somewhat more accessible in the last few years by  the construction of the new locker room at the football field.  We've all admired it for a while, but this afternoon was the first time we took our inexact measurement of its circumference.  When I took Mom's right hand, I was even able to see Dad's left one.  We think this tree has a real chance of taking the crown for biggest tree on campus.  The present title holder is behind one of the campus houses (Marmon, for those who know what that means).  A friend in the biology department told us later this is a burr oak.  Below is a view of the top. 

I don't know what kind of tree this is, but it cracks me up.  Actually, this is what I look like first thing in the morning, if I go to bed with wet hair.  Maybe that's the appeal
You'll have to enlarge this image to see the Canada geese pair.  Almost as soon as this pond was constructed, back in the Spring of 1988, a pair of mating Canada geese began showing up and raising a brood.  At some point my folks noticed that they showed up, like clockwork, on Saint Patrick's Day.  This year on March 16th, we saw a pair of geese on the small pond, a short distance away from this one.  We wondered if there was some change in routine; was this a new pair, were they changing their location, their schedule, what was the deal?  We wondered if this indicated a greater sense of security, since not only is the small pond more accessible, it lacks the runway stretch of open water most waterfowl need to get their running start before take-off.   Did you know they needed that?  I hadn't either, until a biology professor explained it to me.  Cool, huh? 
Well, for whatever reason, the next day, right on schedule, the geese were in residence at the little island in the big pond.  I assume they walked the short distance.  I would love to know why they chose to show up a day early, but not take residence until the time was right.  Canada geese were a much more rare sight here in 1988, but now there are flocks in residence year 'round.  I assume this pair (presumably one of them is a descendant of that first pair) spends the winter somewhere else, but who knows? 
Backyard at Hazelthorne, two views of the budding Magnolia.
No final thoughts to share, no conclusions to be drawn presently from this meander.  It was a nice week, that's all. 


Birdie said...

You got beaned by a squirrel?! Where's Fang?

I always thought tree-hugging was allegorical. Huh. But this was a lovely stroll.

Patrick said...

Birdie: I know, right? Fang as at home, sadly, or this bit of cheek would have never happened. She actually CATCHES squirrels regularly. She likes to eat their faces.

As part of her morning walk with Fang, my mom visits two or three favorite trees on campus. And she hugs them. Every day. This has been going on for years. I doubt that comes as any surprise to you, having met all of us, right?

佳瑩佳瑩 said...
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