Thursday, April 14, 2005

Arboretum revisited. By me and only me.

I have tried so hard to get friends and family members excited about walks in the Arboretum. They say they like it. They agree it’s beautiful. They gush. Next time I ask, they say no, maybe not.

Maybe it does not catch Madison’s hip crowd. Today, for example, the few people that were strolling among blooming trees all had those plastic glasses you wear just after you have cataract surgery. Some used binoculars to look at buds.

But there are paths that really probe the wilderness (okay, the guy I passed in the woods was creepy, but I could outrun him!). And there are seasonal changes to observe. The place rocks!

I went there today to celebrate the end of tax computations and to do a little trot of appreciation for a good day. [My class this morning caught me up so completely, that I can honestly say it was one of my favorite teaching moments ever.]

The crowds don’t come to the Arboretum on weekdays. And few people know that the third week of April is magnolia season. By contrast, the place is packed in May, during peak lilac blooming days. But today it was (with rare exceptions) only me, and of course, this:
what, not beautiful enough? Posted by Hello
no words for it: Posted by Hello
looking up from the trunk Posted by Hello
a wild stalker... (of the gobbling kind) Posted by Hello
Posted by Hello
He can lose himself in the burnt prairie. Except for his red belly. Posted by Hello
I finish the trot with a look at 'Magnolia Ballerina.' Fitting name.
 Posted by Hello


I look up from my usual Thursday morning lecture work and see this perfect dapple of morning light on the rabbit as he rests, loving (I can tell) the needle bed under the white pine that I planted, basking, this time, in the first warmth of the sun -- and I melt. Good morning, rabbit. Have a nice breakfast. Go ahead, choose your flower.
delightful, delovely, (forget about the delicious) Posted by Hello

Do you ever find yourself sitting across the dinner table from someone and staring at their hands?

Is it just me? I notice hands. I remember so well my high school boyfriend’s long fingers, the shape of the nail – everything. My grandmother’s hands were thick. How else to describe them? Her skin was coarse – dry from years of washing, cleaning, scrubbing with her own hands. Brutal stuff. But they were nimble, too. I kid you not, this image is real: I see her all the time pinching the dough of pierogi, quickly, adeptly with her fingers: pinch, flick, pinch, flick... My father’s fingers are stocky, but I remember admiring his nails as a kid. Many men, I used to think, had very unattractive, grimy nails. Not my dad, I noted with girlish pride.

My own hands are peasant stuff: they're small but tough. I should think a child (anyone perhaps) would feel proptected by them: I wont let go, I'll clear the bushes and bramble and make the road safer... They have burns from restaurant work, scars from an indelicate childhood followed by a period of obsessive gardening. They are darkened by the sun, and the nails could never have the shape that a manicurist would aim for. Not that they’ve ever seen a manicurist. They are fearless hands, “we’ll try anything” hands. There’s no timidity to them. They mask the inevitable weakness that lurks within. Only an obsessive hand watcher would notice, as I would notice in another, their unstillness: the paper napkin rolling, the straw paper folding, the uncertaintly in moments of repose.

It’s not that hands set a standard, that they classify people for me, that they repel or draw me to someone. But I always notice them.