His extended wings momentarily block the sun setting his feather tips ablaze. His vermillion talons grasp the waiting branch threatening to break it from the tree unless is bends to his will. His curved beak arches against an orange sky holding tightly to the retreating sun. I can only watch a majestic moment and believe that somewhere the must be a God for nature alone could not conceive of a creature of such beauty, such passion.
The ghosts of my birth parents blow into my dreams as so many white sheets torn from the clothesline by gale winds, fly over me, at once angels and vultures carrying off memories created from the clay of surmise and wishful thinking.
I invite their visits, frail branches to which to cling in the storms of growing age, beginnings tenuous anchors to hold against time, knowing the battle cannot be won, but take joy in skirmishes not to be diminished by an ultimate failure I have long come to accept.
In the heart of winter, then, which seemed unending I would stare out at the maples barren branches piled in ever tottering snow and dream of palm trees and a warm ocean breeze.
In heart of winter now, such as it is, all I see are endless palms and many Southern Live Oaks, their branches piled under a heavy burden of sagging Spanish Moss and I dream of the simple beauty of the maple leaf shifting from its deep green to its endless shades of autumn beauty.
As you stoop to pick up fallen leaves are you cleaning spring, summer or autumn? What seasons are deep within the winter branch? How does your work and that of the tree truly differ, and what leaves do you shed?
A reflection on case 83 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)
It was draped over the fence, a bridge for squirrels who would otherwise would go through the chain. There’s a sadness to its needles, many burying themselves in the accumulated snow, cast off by the great Spruce as extraneous, an old coneless branch, “that is the reason” the trunk whispers in the wind “why I am rid of it, why now you are free to take up lopping shears and make of it what you will or just haul it to the curb, it is of no matter to me.” There is a cynicism in the old tree’s voice, as if saying, “Look, I was here before you, long before any of this,” knowing it will go unchallenged. But I remind it of the fate of the Austrian Pine that one stood two dozen yards away and the Spruce sheds another cone and lapses into silence.