wonders close to home.
Yes, when your sometime home lies at the mouth of Boynton Canyon in Sedona, and snow dusts the ancient red rocks, of course everything is wondrous. But when I worked at the Grand Concourse in the Bronx last year, I thought is was pretty marvelous, too.
Look, see, absorb.
Yes, the sky is white. Yes, it’s cold out. Are you dressed warmly enough? says my mother. Yes. I happen to be hotblooded. Like the lizard we found on the kitchen curtain this morning is coldblooded, and not doing much of anything, just existing.
If anything, the manzanita in the pygmy forest looks even more perfect with a dollop of snow.
I’ve always loved how the old and the new intertwine.
I’ve gone to the end of this trail once, but I’ve started at the beginning so, so many times.
The trail flaky orange like peanut butter.
People whiz by. What’s the rush? I visit old favorites. The twin-stemmed alligator juniper.
How important is it to conquer the trail, conquer the world? Is there something I need to be doing? I am unencumbered by a book contract (for now) with not a penny in my pocket to weigh me down. I think that might be alright, at least for today.
I’d like to branch out like an old tree. Reevaluate. Reassess. Probably won’t come to a conclusion any time soon. That’s okay.
Why do I do this thing, writing? Does it matter at all? Is it ego? More like id! No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money, said the sage Samuel Johnson. Someone recently suggested that I put way too much time into this blog. Why would you do that? I felt stung, a bit. Well, it is true that as W. H. Auden famously, said, poetry makes nothing happen. (His words actually come from a great poem, in which he honors fellow poet W. B. Yeats. Auden goes on to say of poetry: it survives, / A way of happening, a mouth.) A blog post is that idea of nothing happening squared. I am aware of that.
Well. Why then? Because I get a chance to write about white skies and white snow. Snow glow. The old twisted with the new. My doubts. My quest, such as it is, on any given day. Solipsistic? Caught. Some other people like it too. I know that, and I appreciate it. Close, closer, closest.
Someone I know with a long, storied career in trees told me he’s just begun singing at cabaret open mics. None but a blockhead ever sang but for money, certainly. He’d never done it before, and occasionally bombs. All things new and grand and unexpected.
I am searching for inosculated trees. Kissing trees. I’ve found them before and written about them before, but not yet today. Same old same old.
But what is your blog about? demanded the pleasant stranger. Well, I do things, and then I write about them. That’s it. Isn’t there a limit to the amount of Jean-juice anyone can digest? That’s why we have Alka Seltzer.
On the trail I pass a juniper that’s old and fat. (Like me. No complaints. I had granola this morning. That’s more than some of our friends on the southern border.) Something I never noticed before, it has a scroll of hieroglyphics hidden beneath the bark. The magic of beetles.
So many trees here fat and sassy, with intricately detailed and colorized skins.
Maybe it’s my way of escaping reality. I set my intention to find inosculated trees. Haven’t seen one example yet this morning, though I know I have on this trail before. That’s why we do it again and again.
A mess of needles.
I work things out in my mind as I go and as I write. Consider it a character flaw.
Beautiful and common shadbush.
Stalking the forest, seeking conjoined trees. They didn’t know what they were doing, and through a trick of the wind they grew closer and closer and decided to join forces. I like the junipers with twinned trunks because they confound dendrologists who would love to count their rings to determine their age. They are ageless. It’s so brilliantly confusing.
But I love the inosculated ones because they’re more rare. Spotting them is hard, sometimes, they’re a secret hiding in plain sight. You sort of have to catch them in the act. Someone I know used to say all the time, We are so lucky. Perhaps. But of course you have to make your own luck, yada yada. And how do you do that? Sometimes by retracing your steps over and over and over again. I’ll feel lucky if I can find a conjoined tree. I know there’s one here someplace.
Finally I find a pair.
My work here is done.
Someone stops me on the trail: Do you know the way to the subway? Is she making some kind of hiker’s joke? No, I say, but if you continue on you’ll find the Indian cave. What do you mean, subway? Turns out it’s some kind of tunnel formation. Other hikers mention it too, everyone looking for the subway in Sedona. It’s supposedly a turn off the main trail by a red and green tree. Red and green tree? Interesting concept, said the supercilious arborist. Then I met up with this hand-painted trail marker, went in and looked around and didn’t find the subway, but maybe next time.
There are surprising numbers of hikers here today. Questers all.
Abel is 15 years old and hiked most of the trail before getting pooched. Others are taking pictures of the same sights I’m showing here.
Overheard on the trail: Do you ever feel like you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop? Absolutely.
An old soldier. I’m impressed.
Sometimes you’re just hanging on for dear life.
There is an oak being beautiful around here, though I don’t see it at present.
I’m a trunk, you’re a stone. Would it be okay if we cohabit this place?
Pretty sure I’ve met up with this old geezer rock before.
Animal pee. Yes, we live here too. A hawk overhead, scree. The sound of snow plopping all around as the morning warms. Am I going to see something amazing now?
Place one foot in front of the other.
There’s so much to see.
Just don’t slip on the ice.