Shake-up time: Will this tree die?
Camera in hand, I’ve stepped outdoors primed for delight, hoping for insight: another digitized Blog Fairy seeking truth.
What am I to make of this quaking aspen leaf with its arresting, toxic calligraphy?
Patterns seem embossed: a looping, crusted maze made by invisible hungers. Dotted lines of artful, ongoing destruction.
I want gentle discoveries, compelling connections—not bad news from a tree. I want whimsy laced with meaning.
This leaf will haunt me.
Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Nature invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.”
Trying to think like a bug, I zoom in, this time using iPhoto. Such tender, juicy terrain! No wonder those dangerous trails follow veins, stitch through living tissue. Mites with big appetites? The Magnum opus of a worm working solo?
Poor aspen. Sustaining similar damage, I’d quake too.
MEMO: Beware invasions in fascinating disguises.
Five times I’ve tried to write about this besieged leaf. It’s bugging me. What am I meant to see?
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here.
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger.
Rooted things model hope, embody survival—a comfort when time weighs me down and connections elude me.
“Stand still,” poet Pádraig Ó Tuama echoes. “Learn from the things that are already in the place where you wish you were not. …it can help you be there” (emphasis, mine).
Memory interrupts, replaying a recent encounter: Feeling socially awkward last week, I started a conversation. Before the nice stranger could finish her thoughts, I was already formulating replies. Distracted, restless, my weight shifted from heels to toes, readied my body to edge away.
I’d been more present to that doggone leaf.
Now, the proverbial dots connect. Revelation thunderbolts into my soul. I latched onto a stranger to ease my looping path through a crowded room. Like bugs feeding off a leaf, I used her.
Leave it to Nature to stage a shake-up. To showcase glimpses from God.
My ailing leaf is a mirror.
I’d rather not own its reflection.
How do you handle a shake-up?
*Read the whole Wagoner poem here