A Panorama of the trees in the backyard, which I’ll be updating you all about throughout the spring and summer. From left, the crepe myrtle, apple, and finally the Japanese maple in front of the deck.
55 degrees today in DC, and sunny. Perfect day for yard work. Also, it reminded me that Spring isn’t that far off, and yet the big unruly apple tree we inherited from our landlords was still unpruned. Pruning for shape and health of hardwood fruit trees like apples and pears should ideally happen in the winter when the tree is dormant. Our apple tree hadn’t been pruned, with any intent at least, in at least two years, maybe more. It was at minimum 15 feet tall and shooting a tangled mess of branches into and over the fence that bounds it on three sides (it is a very small yard-pictures forthcoming), not to mention threatening the telephone lines stretching towards the house.
I say “was” because thanks to the guidance of youtube (and real life) British orchardist Stephen Hayes, I turned that crazy pyramid of a tree into a lovely little open centered beaut. Alas, by the time I was done cleaning up and tidying my new wood pile, it was too dark for photos. I will be sure to post some soon. For now, watch Mr. Hayes work his magic, and get excited for the first blossoms of Spring, right around the corner.
The intermittent nature of this blog reflects the current intermittent nature of my contact with “nature” – which is meant to be ironic in the context of this blog… Have I lost you yet? However, I can’t stay away from writing forever, and since I’ve been wandering around DC long enough now to know which way the parks are, I have no excuse not to write again. Plus, schizophrenic weather notwithstanding, spring is nearly here and its time I had even more reasons to drag myself outside for long walks in the woods, bike rides along the river, kayak trips in the bay and visits to America’s arboretum.
Today, for example, we took the dog, Ginny, to our neighborhood park, where the temporary warm up had coaxed some squirrels down from their nests in the oaks and chestnuts to dig up some buried nuts. Ginny was so excited to see her friends again. She wanted to play, but they kept running back up into the trees whenever she got close. She’s pretty exhausted now.
The California Environmental Legacy Project has put out a call for stories about Californians’ “One True Place” — a place “that calls to you, inspires you, heals you.” My effort to choose just one place to describe for my submission inspired a new feature here at Culture vs. Nature, wherein I can write about, and share photos of, places that have called to me, inspired me, healed me, without having to choose between them all. My choice for submission to the “One True Place” project is the first in the series. Read it below. Then tell me about your own place in the comments. Continue Reading →
This week I revisited one of my favorite sources for deep meditations for walking, Gary Snyder, and discovered these thoughts in his book of prose essays, The Practice of the Wild.
There’s no rush about calling things sacred. I think we should be patient, and give the land a lot of time to tell us or the people of the future. The cry of a Flicker, the funny urgent chatter of a Gray Squirrel, the acorn whack on a barn roof — are signs enough.
The wilderness pilgrim’s step-by-step breath-by-breath walk up a trail, into those snowfields, carrying all on the back, is so ancient a set of gestures as to bring a profound sense of body-mind joy.
Walk in a place of respite this week, whether its your own backyard, a city park, or the crest of the Sierra Nevada, and remember that (and here I have to quote Snyder again), “The best purpose of such studies and hikes is to be able to come back to the lowlands and see all the land about us, agricultural, suburban, urban, as part of the same territory — never totally ruined, never completely unnatural.”