Archive for May, 2014

A Simple Man

Posted: May 30, 2014 in Everyday Life

Beware the simple man, he isn’t. I would like to think of myself as just a simple man. One that enjoys simple pleasures, uncomplicated relationships and has simple needs. Sounds nice, sort of takes you in, in this complicated world. But it is pretty much B.S. when you hear a fellow say “I’m just a simple man”. When I hear that I think, Ya, sure you are, what other crap are you going to try to feed me? The days of the simple men are gone and I’m not sure they ever were.

If your only conveyance is walking, you don’t have a cell phone and you still believe that networking is personally shaking hands and verbally making commitments to go cane pole fishing, you may be a simple man. Otherwise, don’t bull shit me, you ain’t a simple man.

I am tempted to quote a few Henry Thoreau Walden Pond quotes here but I’ve read Thoreau, the quintessential simple man , even his writings of the experiences at Walden are not simple concepts. After living the simple life for over 2 years he said, ‘How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live’. His good friend was Emerson, he owned the cabin and beach front where Thoreau lived isolated on that 60 some acre lake. I’ve read a little of Emerson, also. I can’t imagine two more complicated minds or hear those two men having any simple conversations. Maybe fascinating but never simple.

Even if you were a simple man living a simple life, you would still have bee stings, snake bites and illness that could topple your sublime easy-going lifestyle. It is hard for me to rationalize that a wilderness style of life of the 1840’s could be a simpler more relaxing life than what I live right here in 2014. If Henry thought city life of the 1840’s was too complicated, what would he think of our lives of the 2010’s?  He would think our lives were pretty damn easy. Life of the 1800’s was a bitch. Life expectancy for a man was about 45 years.  You couldn’t walk across the street without stepping in a pile of horse manure. I would have wanted to live on Walden Pond, too if I lived in that era. My grocery store is close and amply stocked. I have central heating and cooling. And I can’t say enough about sliced bread and indoor plumbing. Even though I have to work and occasionally interact with sometimes difficult people, my life is easy. Although I live in a very modern and complicated time, acquiring  my basic needs have been much easier than it would have been 170 years ago.  I like my conveniences and can’t say that I am a simple man just because I have few material needs or wants. The only horse crap I have to avoid is the crap spewing from the mouths of the men claiming to be simple men living in a complicated world.

No, men that say they are a simple man are only yearning to be one. Simple man want-a-bes aren’t yearning for a simpler wilderness life or simple conveniences or relationships. They are really just crying out for a quiet peace of mind. They want their thoughts to calm for a while. They have ideas, inventions, books, poems, paintings, new buildings or law suits running through their heads all day. They want a break. A truly simple man wouldn’t realize he was living a simple life. It is a Catch 22. Like a man who is smart enough to know that if he keeps flying he will die isn’t crazy if he asks the doctor to ground him. A truly crazy man wouldn’t be sane enough to know he was crazy or to ask to be grounded but in order to be grounded all he had to do was ask. A Catch 22,” it’s one hell of a catch that Catch 22″. The same with a simple man. You will never know a simple man because when you have a quiet mind there is no reason to tell anyone and there is no reason for anyone to ask..

Such is the life of John

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The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks
of another breeze
and the trade winds soft
through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting
on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands
on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts
on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped
and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Maya Angelou

Saturdays, As Time Goes By

Posted: May 25, 2014 in Everyday Life

A day for car washing, lawn mowing, brush cutting (if you are a President), carpet sweeping, clothes washing, movie watching, beer drinking, swing dancing and toenail clipping, but not necessarily in that order, or all at the same time. Saturday. Some have the whole day off, some only the afternoon. But who doesn’t look forward to it. It marks the end of the week. When I was a kid, it was the one day of the week I was sure to have to take a bath. Then I started noticing girls and decided on my own that it was more rewarding to take a quick dip everyday. But Saturday still remains a day to take that little bit of extra time for cleaning, grooming or just sitting on our butt and finally relaxing after a demanding, dirty or emotional week.

We need the time off. Not everyone gets to have that time off on Saturday. Some have their Saturdays on Wednesday or on Sunday and Monday. Some have half days off on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays but work all weekend. I know fellows that work 10-24 hour days on and 7 days off. Try to figure that schedule out. But you can bet that on our free time off, we are all doing about the same thing; cutting and painting toenails, trimming nose hair, shaving legs, getting haircuts and taking that extra long shower or bubble bath. Depending on our gender, of course. It seems our bodies can only go so long before it needs a really thorough cleaning and preventive maintenance and 6 days seems to be the mandatory interval.

What we do on our time off changes as time goes by, meaning when we get older. It’s a constant trade-off. Once we are newly married, the Saturdays we used to spend hunting, fishing or playing sports suddenly turns into married life and we spend the time going shopping, house hunting, long evenings cuddled up on the couch and making mad passionate love. A little advice for you newly weds. Notice, the shopping comes first or you will never finally get to the mad passionate love. But that soon turns into spending the weekends taking the kids to the grandparents, Brownies or Cub Scouts, little league, soccer, lawn mowing and setting up tables and chairs for your wife’s garage sales. Your long showers and baths, get shorter and you actually start looking forward to getting back to your real job on Monday. But you get back to work, compare notes with the other young fathers and you find you are not alone. All the other young dads are spending their Saturdays the same way and you find solace in that. It seems there was about a decade of that, but there is hope.

There finally comes a day when the kids are older and more or less taking care of themselves. Your finances are straightened around enough that the kids college is a surer possibility and you start having a little extra time and cash. Saturdays start picking up again. The wife would just as soon not have you along shopping, you stop having as many garage sales and the teenage kid still at home occasionally is mowing the yard.

Your “fucking like minks and having babies” days are over and you’re approaching the “living happily ever after” phase. You find yourself with free time and money on weekends. You’ve pretty much given up on girls so the showers and baths aren’t the priority they used to be. That’s a waste of time now. You decide you are in a position to do something you’ve always wanted to do on weekends. Some of the guys buy bass boats, new shotguns, jet skis, bigger TV’s, pimped out ’57 Chevys, or the latest in computer systems, which at the time was Apple Mac. They were very expensive at the time. I choose a different hobby, I learned to fly.

I’ll never forget the beautiful fall Saturday morning when I first took off from the Dodge City airport with a young 20 something kid instructing me in the right seat. The air was smooth and cool. There was no one in the pattern but our lone 152 Cessna and we were shooting touch and goes. The city shopping mall was just outside the left downwind of the 32 runway. As the mall’s big JC Penny’s store passed about a thousand feet below, my young newly wed flight instructor says, “Just think, instead of up here enjoying the view and shooting landings, we could be down there right now spending our Saturday morning shopping with our wives”. I didn’t even look down. It was then I realized this young kid teaching me was wise beyond his years. I then knew flying on Saturdays was for me and despite his youth, I had the right fight instructor. True story.

DSS.

What do you call an egg that is fried on one side and then turned over and cooked until the yoke is just partially solid, but still partially runny? I call it “over medium”. But it seems there is no standard for this particularly style of fried egg. For a number of years I have tried to find the proper phrase to order this egg preparation. I still haven’t found it.
At first I liked my eggs “over easy”. That’s fried on one side then turned over carefully and easy does it, not breaking the yolk, cooked “easily” to only cook the egg white. Leaving the yoke warmed but still soft and runny. It seems all restaurants understand this term. “How would you like your eggs?”…”Over easy”. Simple, no questions asked, the order is in.
But caution must be used in ordering the over easy egg. There seems to be varying states of “easiness”. I don’t like whites that are raw and yolks that aren’t properly warmed. I have been served a lot of uncooked eggs, let’s just say they were “sunny side up” not “over easy”. They were meant to be “over easy” but the cook just didn’t allow it to be “sunny side down” long enough.
The other well understood egg style is “over well”. “How would you like your eggs?”…”Over well”. Simple, no questions asked, the order is in, even at the most obscure diner with perhaps the most inexperienced cooks. “Over well” is a good bet but they may end up rubbery.
I think “Over medium” is the perfect fried egg. And obviously one of the hardest to cook and to understand. I suspect that some wait staff write down “over easy” when I order “over medium” to avoid any gnarly comments from the cook. But the hardest egg to prepare has got to be the poached.

A couple of years ago I was working with a fellow that was from India. We were working outside of St. Louis just across the river on 270 in Illinois. Diners known as “Waffle House” begin to spring up north to south starting just about there along I-70 and work their way south toward the gulf. They are everywhere as you travel into the south. I haven’t found hardly any of these dives north of I-70. You either hate Waffle Houses or you love them. It isn’t what you call high cuisine but there is a very good chance you will find your breakfast there much like it was made at home on the farm all across rural America. Basic breakfast, pancakes, grits, bacon and eggs and of course waffles and everything properly over greasy. They all make great coffee and personally I enjoy going there although you will find them in various states of repair and cleanliness. Some are immaculate, some are not but I’m sure they all pass their health inspections with only minor infractions. The typical small diner layout, tables around the outside walls, a counter with stools in the middle with an open grill kitchen immediately behind the counter. In the early morning hours a loud radio with local news will usually be playing. You can watch and smell your meal being cooked on the grill, usually by a male cook that looks like he has just retired from 15 years with the Chicago Bears defensive line, or perhaps a 10 year sentence in Joliet. The stereotype short order cook. They work very hard and it is amazing watching them cook the orders. Sort of like the Japanese teppanyaki cooks but old school American Gothic and they don’t show off by throwing the food at you or swinging knives around. They were probably doing that before Joliet. I’m surprised Steinbeck never wrote about Waffle Houses. If they had been around in his time, he would have. But you wouldn’t dream of ordering a beer ice-cream shake at a Waffle House. Or perhaps never a poached egg.

Waffle Houses have every egg necessary on the menu, fried, scrambled and omelet. That’s as far as the cook’s imagination is required to go. But it is great American atmosphere and I wanted to show Bobby what it was like here in the States among the rough and tumble working class Americans, my kind of people.

That day our 40 something waitress, experienced, wonderful personality, took my “eggs over medium” order without a question and turned to my Indian friend. He orders “two eggs”, she says “how you want those cooked Hon?”. He says “Poached?”

“Well, I’ll see what I can do with that, Hon. Never been ordered here before”.

I waited, listening, while she put in our order. Then I heard the cook’s voice “Poached! We don’t have poached on the menu! Poached! I’m not making no poached eggs!” They both paused  and discussed it for a moment and she was handed a sauce pan which she filled with water and she placed on a side burner to simmer. In between refilling other customer’s coffee cups and taking a couple of other orders she prepared Bobby’s poached eggs herself.

When our order was served my “over medium” eggs were perfect. She brought Bobby’s poached eggs and they looked delicious as well. And she said ” hope these eggs are OK, I’ve never poached an egg before in my life. Are they alright?”.  He says “yes, these look fine”, not really realizing what this hard working woman went through to get them to him.

I tipped big that morning and ever since.

Such is the life of John.

 

Mac and Other Cheese

Posted: May 18, 2014 in Everyday Life

It is graduation month. My oldest Grandson is now officially done with high school.

There was only one graduate that took an on-stage Selfie photo yesterday. I expected more.

I’m getting one if I can! Something new. An office desk with a built-in treadmill. I like working from a high desk standing up. Hope I can pull this off. A treadmill is a logical addition to the office. I’ve been spinning my wheels for years when I’m there, now I will actually be able to measure how far. The next addition will probably be an arrangement of the office cubicles into a puzzling maze. It is a rat race you know.

Just watched a 60 Minutes broadcast about a town in Paraguay that is built on a trash landfill. The residents have nothing. Everyone works picking trash for a living. But one, organized a children’s orchestra with instruments made out of trash. They made guitars, violins, trumpets, the works. The kids worked hard learning to play these put-together instruments and they sound wonderful! They will be touring around Europe I believe. Now tell me your making lemonade from lemons story.

Fleetwood Mac is touring again. With Christine McVie this time. Buy your “On With The Show” tickets in your favorite city here  http://www.fleetwoodmac.com/splash

Prices are outrageous but I have a friend that says he knows a “guy” . We’ll see, but if you have a “guy”, let me know, tickets are ranging from 175 to 780, that’s U.S. dollars.

I may just send the ticket price I can afford to Paraguay and only buy a CD and a 1970’s Stevie Nicks poster. They have new songs to record.  I’d really like to hear them live though.

The recording studio, Sound City in Van Nuys  was shut down in 2011 and the Neve 8028 analog mixing console from studio A has been bought by Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl and moved to his private recording studio. It’s been said that the console, studio and the sound acoustics for the drums, especially the drums, were the reason for Sound City’s success of more than a hundred certified gold and platinum albums by many different artists, the most successful Fleetwood album  “Fleetwood Mac” among them.  If you have watched the interesting documentary “Sound City” you know all of this.

Back on the road next week. I just have 2 or 3 more trips to Oklahoma and I can wrap it up down there. It’s been a year. When I’m through maybe then I will have the time and inclination to write something new.

DSS

Snow Geese Then No Geese

Posted: May 12, 2014 in Everyday Life, Humor

Now that winter is over and I’ve watched the large flocks of geese returning, I am brought back to an earlier time, not necessarily a simpler time but an earlier time many years ago. I was traveling through southern Iowa with my friend JD. We were traveling in a brand new Customized Ford Club  van that JD had just purchased. I can still remember that new car smell.

It was the common practice at the time, for a few of us that traveled through the back roads of the country, to carry a shotgun. Not for protection, goodness sakes no, but for hunting. We never knew when an opportunity might arise to shoot a pheasant or couple of quail that we flushed from the side of the road….Or what ever else was in season. During the summer months the shotgun would be replaced with a fishing rod and tackle.

All of this was well and good but if you “hunted” in this fashion you had to be sure of a couple of things. One, the game never stayed in the road right of way and always flew, ran or dragged itself across the right of way onto private property. If you didn’t know the property owner you had to be sure that the land was not posted with “No Hunting ” or “No Trespassing” signs. You could get in trouble if you disregarded this. If caught, the trouble could range from a stern warning from the property owner, all the way to a shotgun blast through the rear window of your car or vehicle. The worst that could happen and maybe the most desirable was a fine from the county sheriff or game warden. The other thing was that you had to know if the game was in season and you had the proper license to hunt it. Two very important things to remember.

Normally I am very conscientious and so is my friend JD. But it seems that when we are together we put aside all logic and conscientiousness and are bad influences on each other. A few examples are the stolen turkey incident of 1978 or the moose antlers in the car fiasco of 1980 or the pulling down the tent hooked to the car bumper catastrophe a couple of years earlier. Trouble seems to follow us when we are together. And believe it or not none of these are alcohol related. But these are not the stories today. Today I’m telling you about the snow geese debacle.

On this day JD and I were returning from a large electronics sale. Looking up the road ahead of us we both noticed the unmistakable sight of a small flock of snow geese disassembling and landing onto a large farm pond. I’m not going to say whether it was goose season or whether either of us had duck or geese stamps, I assumed JD did and JD assumed I did, I’m sure. But we both agreed it would be nice to have a big goose for Christmas dinner. JD followed the frontage road that was probably five hundred yards away from the pond while I retrieved JD’s shotgun from behind the seat. Without talking we both knew what we, or should I say JD, was going to do. You see that was our trouble neither of us ever took on the accountability of our actions. I always assumed it was his fault and he always assumed it was mine.

As I was opening the access gate to the property I remember the No Hunting sign hanging there but neither of us mentioned it. JD drove the van onto the snow-covered two-track path that led to the pond. On our slow creep down the hill, through what became foot deep snow, we heard a “Kachunk!” and realized JD had hit a snow drift covered bale of hay. We continued not wanting to scare the geese, knowing we had to get close to guarantee a clean kill of these large birds. We kept going slowly and got within range for his 12 gauge short-barreled shotgun. JD stops, steps out of the van and Pow! Ka Pow! shoots two of the last straggling landing geese. They both dropped within 50 yards of us. I quickly trudged out and retrieved them by the neck. As I turned to return to the van I could see the dreaded site of a pickup following our van’s snow tracks down the pasture toward us. It was the landowner.

He stopped behind us. I remained standing by the van with a goose hanging from each hand. JD unloaded the shotgun and restowed it quickly behind the driver’s seat. Landowner got out of his pickup, all six and half or seven foot of him, and with a smile on his face approached us. He says ” those are great lookin geese! I heard your shots, not bad, two shots and two geese!” We only nodded and returned his smile. Now with his hand outstretched he says “Goose will be good for Christmas dinner!”. Handing the left hand goose to him, I said “there ya go enjoy it! Merry Christmas!” Upon which he extended his other hand. Picking up on his signals perfectly, I surrendered the other goose to him, saying nothing. He returned to his pickup. As he was placing the old truck in gear he lowers the window “I noticed you ran over a bale of hay on you way down here, hay’s sellin’ for three dollars a bale these days”.  JD promptly took out his wallet and extracted a five dollar bill and handed it to him. Then he said “If you don’t mind, I’ll keep the change. Now! Get your goddamn bale of hay off my property!”

Under the close eye of Mr Landowner from the road, we stopped at the torn up hay bale on our exit out. Opened the sliding side door to the new smelling Customized Club Van and loaded the unwrapping, snow-covered, wet bale of hay onto the plush custom carpeting. JD all the while imitating Bing Crosby singing “I’m Dreaming of A White Christmas”. I’ll admit, I had a big smile on my face.

I think we had ham for Christmas dinner that year.

Such is the life of John

Casual Heroes

Posted: May 7, 2014 in free verse, politics, war
Tags: , ,

Old men feeling the foreplay of the sensuous tug of war
Old men that have forgotten or have never known the smell of the smoke of death
But with blustering words from their arm chairs and their long tables
they easily speak of sending the young Armies
who believe the words shouted from the podiums of these old casual heroes.
Casual heroes that now voyeur from hovering satellite views
and the green starlit 20,000 foot cameras of robot planes.
Old casual heroes with hard-ons and loose belts, craving their pornography of war.

DSS.

 

As the ukulele starts to play, someone behind me begins whistling in tune. Many 10 inch video monitors flip down from above. It scares the shit out of me! A “Two and A Half Men” episode begins. The Frito Lay man looks up at me and grins, he’s reading “Our Iceburg Is Melting”. Beside him the Ukulele player continues his chords. What is that song he is playing? Who in the hell is encouraging him with his whistling? To dampen the noise, I plug in the head phones and wrap them around my head, I change the station and settle on “60’s on 6”. The XM radio is on channel 5. It’s playing the Door’s – “People Are Strange”. We have just taken off, we’re on our way to Denver and I can not frickin believe it. I ask the flight attendant if I can borrow a pen. This is not a dream and I’ve got to write this down.

My morning started in a motel in Wichita, Kansas at the end of Runway 1R of ICT. There is very little traffic there at night and I slept like a log. I have a flight to catch that leaves at 06:30 AM. Let’s add this up, an International flight from a smaller airport, arrive at the airport 2 hours before departure. I’m getting my butt out of bed and leaving for the airport no later than 4 O’clock. If I used military time, that would be O dark thirty on anybody’s watch. The plan is a quick flight to Denver and then on to Calgary arriving before noon. I have an appointment with immigration and I don’t want to miss it.

I’m showered and dressed by 4:00. I have no room for another pair of shoes so I wear my work boots. I know it will be a bitch to kick them off at the TSA check point, run them thru the X-ray machine, put them back on and lace them up without holding up the whole impatient inspection line. But my left foot is killing me and I need the support of the lace up boot to make the walk from Denver gate B20 to B84 tolerable. That walk is just about the full length of the terminal.

As I sit in my window seat in Wichita, I loosen my coat, turn off the Blackberry and look forward to a quiet morning flight to the mountains. I’m a pilot. I’m not afraid to fly. But I do know the dangers. This plane is an Airbus 320 and the geese migrate in and out of here all winter. We’re in the middle of Kansas but when the flight attendant starts talking about using my seat cushion for a floatation device, I sure as hell listen. The last 320 to suck up a couple of those geese, ended up in the Hudson River. And I’ll guarantee you the Arkansas River doesn’t have much water in it this time of year. My training has taught me to pay attention during take-offs. I’m usually a little on edge. The other passengers try to act nonchalant and unconcerned while they read their books and newspapers. But notice on your next flight, you won’t see many pages being turned during take-offs.

Right before we get off the ground is when the circus begins. A kid across the isle in 17F pulls out his ukulele. I could not of been more surprised if he’d pulled out his UKULELE, if you know what I mean. He begins to tune the damn thing. I think the man in the Frito-Lay branded shirt and ball cap next to him is going to loooove this. But Frito Man gives me a toothy grin and pulls out a book titled “Our Iceburg Is Melting”. He’s one of those unconcerned and nonchalant kind of guys I was talking about. Everything else happens just as I first described.

A hundred and 40 miles out of Denver, that’s about 15 mins in Airbus time, we begin to descend for landing. Ukulele boy begins playing again. Whistler in the back joins in. And God as my witness, I recognize the song. It is “People are Strange”. The Doors should have used that damn instrument. He and the whistler continued on in unison until touchdown. It was something beautiful.

After I walked the 2 or 3 miles to Gate B84, I read the departure flight and time at the empty check-in counter. It reads “Omaha – Flight 527 – Departing 08:15”. Shit! I’m looking for “Calgary – Flight 6222 – Departing – 08:55”. I walk over to another service counter not more than 50 feet away and inquire about my flight. A man behind the counter said this and I’m not exaggerating. “Sorry sir, you’ll have to ask the check-in counter. We can’t help you here, we are the Customer Service Desk”. I could not have made that up. I added it to my notes and I’m still laughing about it! Indeed, people are strange.

Such is the life of John.

Perhaps a Zen Thing

Posted: May 1, 2014 in Everyday Life
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I would describe it as gnarly. It has been split by ice, dried by drought and trimmed cruelly by storm winds. It sheds not only leaves in the summer and fall but branches and long dry sticks during the winter. Squarely sawed stubs of once strong branches protrude from its trunk. The wounds were undeserved and now are only slightly healed with a green rounded rim. The constant and predominate southern winds have trained our willow’s branches to spread reaching northward, permanently posed in a windswept profile even on the few calm days of summer. But despite its rough life, its trunk grows thicker and it gains a few feet of height each year.
The globe willow, even growing untended in the wild, is a most beautiful tree. As its name implies, its branches will naturally form a very rounded shape as if from a Grant Wood painting. That is what drew my first attention. It has rough thick bark and in its mature form casts a very thick cool shadow. But the species is known for its poor disease and insect resistance, which I found out only after choosing to plant it. My tree chose to ignore the rounded branches shape genetic characteristics, instead grows weak branches and retained its poor health reputation. It has survived many doses of insecticides and antibacterial sprays. Until now, I was unaware that a tree could unwind its own DNA helix.
Today I read of the Oriental bonsai tree. As I write this I realize that I may now better understand my 18 year old globe willow. The bonsai trees are grown in a small pot or tray. Through careful pruning and training, the tree is caused to flourish in a stunted growth state. Wire is used to bind the branches and trunks to force it to grow in whatever way the “gardener” prefers. They are an amazing and beautiful addition to a home. Imagine having a whispering pine tree growing in your home that is smaller than the average table lamp. But there is something more intangible and harder to explain about these miniature trees. Growing a bonsai requires a meditative state and the cutting and pruning should be approached with a Zen-like state of mind. It is all about harmony, peace and balance. Only with harmony between nature, man and soul will the tree flourish.
But I’ve read that most of the bonsai tree inter-meaning and Zen has been lost to the general public in the last few years. Westerners look at this tree as only decoration and added atmosphere to their homes. The trees are losing popularity because the Zen is lost. Maybe this too for my globe willow.
Oh it started off in Zen, I planted my little globe willow exactly on my birthday just 18 years ago. How much closer to harmony between nature, man and soul can you get. With the help of two steel posts, wire and rubber hose to cushion the bark, I braced my new tiny 2 inch in diameter tree so it would remain straight for its first couple of formative years until it was strong enough to stand against the wind on its own. But I didn’t think of meditating about it either before or after. Just a few years later when aphids invaded, as I sprayed the insecticidal soap, gently washing each branch and leaf, no prayers, meditation or aaahummmms were uttered. The tree grew at the mercy of the winds, being pruned violently during each storm. Not the required Zen-like state of mind to promote flourished growth, but admittedly done with a closeness to nature. The wire of the wind has formed it branches to lean and flow northward instead of the familiar globe shape of its brothers. No thought was given this, the gradual change was hardly noticed.
With all of this, the tree lives on, though gnarly, leaning, battle scarred and robbed of its intended form and handsomeness. It is still able to cast a cool shade, protect my home by breaking the wind and ice and growing steadfastly adding character to our yard. Perhaps there has been a speechless connection with man all along. The two share the same traits, the same scars, the same stubbornness for life. Perhaps a cosmic connection was made at the time of the first turn of the spade to prepare for its planting. Much like the man that shares its birthday it grows old. Perhaps there has been a harmony between nature, man and soul and both have flourished from it, although awkwardly, surviving and growing despite the forces. Bonsai, the western world’s largest bonsai may be growing in my front yard.

I’ll leave it to you to decide if that’s a Zen thing.

DSS