Near the river this morning, we walked through beds of maple leaves six or eight inches deep. The leaves are still bright. And there is a pungency about them, for in the moist atmosphere their undersides are already being consumed by the elements. What sticks to our shoes is paradise to a host of our fellow beings, even as we innocently help hasten their end. And so paradise and tragedy walk hand in hand, and call the union love.
There was a waltz, too, of small, strange, delicate mushrooms, which had us waltzing to avoid them. Some, though, were catching their breath by the punch bowl, and others had gallantly expired. They struck me as something that could be from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, a dance with tiny umbrellas nimbly held by animated twigs and alder leaves.
Oregon and the nation’s largest black cottonwood tree was waiting for us by Mission Lake and has dropped most of its leaves. When its plaque was installed in 2001, its age was estimated to be 215 years, making it about 233 years old. I have written about it before. The river has changed course since 1786. The larger river, the beautiful river of time, tribulation, and love, flows on. Other than cottonwood, the tree has no human-given name. Maybe it had one and it has been forgotten. Now, though, it is a name in itself, in a language all its own.
October 26, 2019
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