Sunday, October 11, 2009

Rooting Around

Most days on my visits home, I walk down and through the near-by park. It was known as Cates Park when I lived here but has been renamed Whey-a-Wichen (Facing the Wind) in recent years, reclaiming its native heritage and pride of place. Actually a tree by any other name is still a tree and if a thing of beauty is a joy forever, what's in a name?

I'm always fascinated by the intricacies of the exposed root systems. Yes, my dear, your roots are showing, and beautifully so!

Sometimes trees grow right over their defunct confreres (not to be confused with conifers). I don't think it's arboreal cannibalism; more like symbiosis.

Occasionally, trees get very tired of standing about and just have to sit down.

When I walk past this point I always feel like I'm passing through a magic portal.

This portal leads down to the rocky beach. This set of stairs is a new one that I was surprised to see. The others are far more discreet and steep but these are the first set and good to nip down for a quick peek at what's going on.

Often there's a freighter waiting in the inlet. This is the same one that I showed you from my bedroom window on my first day here. Others have come and gone, but this one is still there. My mother and I often ponder why it's staying so long.

This park and beach have been a sort of spiritual sanctuary or refuge for me ever since my family moved here. In troubled times it soothed me. In happy days it complemented my joy. It's damp and lush and redolent with the scent of cedar.

The year my father died, I came to the beach before his funeral and picked up a small black stone and put it in my pocket to bring some sort of solace with me, a touchstone, to the service. As I sat and watched the water and gathered my emotions into a tidy knot, a heron flew down onto a nearby rock and watched and waited with me. I took it as a sign from my father, just because I needed to. I keep that small stone on my bedside table at "my other home."

That year I made a talisman to represent this special place so I could take a bit of it with me when I went back to the east coast. I'll put a picture of it and tell how she came about at my Ragzedge blog.

Postcards from the Edge.


  1. Oh thats just beautiful, I love that story about the stone and the heron. I am sure you were right!

  2. From where I come from, we used to say that 'grown up trees won't allow anyone to bend them.'

    What a wonderful serial of photography - probably worth a book to be written about. Still remember to be able to walk myself through such a 'magical door' of two trees - helping through difficult years.

    A wonderful week filled with the strength of a tree for you.

  3. So you got out of the root cellar to go out rooting around... and a very fine bit of rooting it is, these photos, this story, oozing serenity and quiet and calm and peace and a place where native american language can return while herons bring tidings from the back of beyond to bearers of black stones... I raise my hand and bow my head to salute you from across the water, a wave of greeting, a hand raised palm outward, radiating positive energy...

  4. Hi Saj, Thanks for your vote of confidence that the heron was a sign from my father. I collected all sorts of heron imagery that fall/winter. I haven't seen a heron down at the beach at all this trip.

    I remember reading on your blog how much you miss your father. There's a hole in one's life that they leave that can never be filled up again, isn't there.

    But life goes on. And we still have our crafty mothers!

  5. Hi Robert, I guess it makes sense that trees must be firmly rooted and standing tall and straight and not giving in to passing storms and taking flight on tempting winds. But then, shouldn't a tree be able to bend and dance in the winds rather than snapping in two or toppling over?

    There was a huge windstorm here a few years ago and hundreds of giant cedar trees just toppled as their root systems,while wide, did not go deeply into the damp soil. Some people said it was nature's way of clearing the forest for new growth.

  6. Greetings Owen, or should I call you by your native name, Runs-with-Raccoons!

    I feel your positive vibes and bask in the brilliant light emanating from your upraised palm as it beams directly into my quietly thrumming heart, beating still to the impossible rhythms first stirred by drums that echoed from the depths of your Electric Drool-Aid Garden Tour some weeks ago on the other side of this magnificent Turtle Island that floats on the blue face of Planet Earth as she holds her breath in anticipation of the exhale to end all exhales as it releases tsunamis and earthquakes upon these languid shores.

    My spirit lifts to fly with the blackly cawing crows as they swoop and dive, spearing with their beaks abandonned packets of ketchup, dropping them onto their boldly stolen congealed French fries, swaggering about public meeting places with the bravado of Apache dancers.

    What were we talking about...?

  7. Hi Lynne~ the symbolism of the black stone and the heron is so beautiful. The way it sat by you was so consoling and meaningful. I think if you had been a native there, that would be your totem.
    The beach shot with the freighter isi just magnificent. See how the clouds and water near the shore are tinted in shades of pink?
    You know the outdoor concert place in Massacusetts? It's called Tanglewood? There're your trees!
    (I see you're still thinking Keats with that quote in the 1st paragraph!) xxox

  8. Hi Margaret, Yes, I'm still thinking Keats! I don't know if I'll get around to making the journey to the theatre to see the film. I hope to to do so, though.

    I thought you'd already left for your visit to California, so it's great to see you here!

    I've been cramming in as many walks to the park as I can before the inevitable rains come. Still no sign of my heron...Perhaps he's moved on, as I hope is the case with my father's spirit. xoxo

  9. Hi Lou

    I think trees are such great symbols of resilience, they can inspire us, calm us, offer us solace and shelter...

    I like the idea of a stone or piece of nature that is imbued with memories and emotions, acting as a physical symbol of these parts of ourselves and our pasts...

    Happy days

  10. Hi Delwyn,
    Lovely to see that you came for a walk here with me. I agree with you--trees are magnificent beings.

    Cherishing a small symbolic piece of the natural world is a very special way of preserving a time, memory, or voyage (geographic or symbolic). I have one round, smooth white stone, picked up from the shore of the Ionian Sea in Italy, that I love to hold in my hand. It is, as you say, imbued with memories and emotions.

    Thank you for your beautifully written words.


  11. Where will these so called native names stop?


  12. Laughs-like-a-hyena

    Oops! I think we're being politically incorrect!

  13. Waaoouahh ! I think your writing has taken on new and previously unsuspected dimensions ! Jeez, is there something in the water out there ???

    Peace, I'll be back, gotta go get some sleep now... and do some drooling, electric drooling, many thanks for your words about Haiti...


  14. Yes, Owen, I am not just a pretty face.