The hellebore is blooming outside the porch where the dogs run each morning, night… their white green blossom caught in amongst sword fern and the King Alfred daffodils that will bloom later this month. Spring, late winter, is a quiet return. Drinking coffee and leftover rain and dew catches the new growth on roses, their stems arc and bright green now shows at the ends and middle branches.
The garage with its two side windows and soft olive green face, wood roof. The garden for a few years planted in front here. There are tall sunflowers and the dirt is not ideal for much beyond nasturtium, which will always grow, and the valiant northwest efforts of six pack vegetables, Roma tomatoes and peas, which our mother likes to plant. Mature pussy willow and cottonwood mark the perimeter of my yard and it is met here by a narrow road of gravel and packed earth, a medieval road, and minstrels traveling between hamlet, village and walled city…
From here, the rustle and hum of a thousand cottonwoods, ten thousand saplings that stretch out of minds reach into a forest that mirrors my own yard. There is no one here except ourselves… Stellar Blue Jay and Robin, the occasional dog that wanders down from Shelton View… two piles of dumped asphalt lie on the roadside and are stood upon for both vantage point and meeting place. Nearby, an enormous cottonwood whose trunk eight children’s arms cannot reach ‘round stands at the edge of this forest, a sentinel and watchful guard over all these trees.
Time is noted through daylights angle in branches and from deep within the sheltered narrow trunks one cannot discern the road or direction home. It is the beginning of excitement, of thresholds bent to personal design. “I don’t know which way… Let’s go over here…” and open clearings with stream or creek fed pools, one large pool with a perimeter of moss covered large concrete slabs, Stonehenge and ruin, no one except ourselves to disrupt the velvet growth that clings here and pulls away in sheets like woven fabric. “This is what happens when the world ends!”
We laugh, “This is the end of our world!”
How grand a feeling to note the impermanence of ourselves at ages 11 or maybe 12, as creatures, temporal on this earth. No drugs yet. No drinking in cars or scrawling down schedules for shifts at fast food restaurants.
Just ourselves again, and the contentment and fledgling thoughts of where it all might go… What will I be when I grow up?
It is now late and waiting for our mother’s call, a two syllable holler of sorts, ascending always twice, and in the general direction of the forest.” AAA-dam, AAA-ron time to come home!!” I picture her colorful dress, it’s simple shape and gypsy like flower print. Two front pockets, and it is one of many our grandmother has sewn for her in the soft white light of a bay window near Ravenna Park.
She cups her hands and calls again…
We hear her now and the water in the large pool is still. It is a game to jump from “boulder” and rock to boulder without slipping. Maple leaves quiet rest blanket the pool’s floor and it is anyone’s guess how deep it is here. Mud and silt and inevitable leaves coat wet legs and exclaiming ”Fuck!” loudly when moss gives way and sneakered feet slide knee deep into the pools edge. “It’s your fault!” “Yours!” “Fuckin bitch!” Exclaimed loudly and with conviction to no one in particular. “Mom’s gonna’ be pissed!”
Other colorful pieces of language are paraphrased, details of body parts not yet understood, not even puberty itself has reached this forest, we are young as are the trees here. We are all young still, and green everywhere.
I want to know them now, these trees, am frustrated, saddened still at their premature demise. I miss and I think need, the sound they make in wind, the green yellow light of summer far above my head. The race of vertical branches, everywhere straight in winter. The pool and giant cottonwood.
From the safety of the yard I saw I saw a man arrive and park an old car near the entrance of the forest. It is summer and I am sheltered with branches, cut off jeans, worn t-shirt. He has a large cardboard box and it is cumbersome to lift, but he does it, and with a heavy throw it lands behind the large tree and he is gone.
I walk over and the box is open. A large jackrabbit, white, is stretched out and blood is everywhere. Its face and teeth are bared, one paw folded over and near the other, resting and so much blood. I think this is the first time I have seen this. Death, and it’s box and pale roots of the tree.
I will visit again and flies and matted fur and rain will change the rabbit and leaves will cover him and by fall he is very dry, broken up, the box and he is gone later, I think disturbed by dogs.
The trees will be taken down soon, except for the large tree where I found the rabbit and the trees, the forest that is our house and yard. We run barefoot along dirt paths, worn in now and soft brown earth. Our new sister is here and we get to carry her to the car or out to the garden where our mother stoops, content in old clogs, her ankles dry with dirt and forearms tan, the forest standing tall behind her.
Adam Cone is a Seattle born artist, writer, print maker, baker. Lover of Megan and autumn.