Friday, June 26, 2009

a pathless wood

Spring Birch by Laura Tovar Dietrick

Remember Robert Frost’s poem, “Birches”? He liked walls, fences, roads, paths and trees. Somehow he added a bit of order to nature (something which I found to be faulty after spending a great deal of time in the wild). His poetry meant a great deal to me in high school for a number of reasons. I think his was the first poetry that seemed approachable and clear on the first reading while getting better with subsequent re-reads.

Laura’s picture made me think of Frost today and that poem. So I read the poem again and this particular excerpt seemed to have the most color today, the most fuzzy character:

So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open.

Unlike, Frost’s mention here, I really enjoyed those explorations into the pathless wood, getting my eyes stung or better yet swinging a branch into the face of the guy behind you if he was being a bit of a jerk. More often politely holding swingable branch face-slappers as a sign of camaraderie. Fascination with forests and walking through them began when I was a Boy Scout and continued through my military experiences. This was not a fascination with “the road not taken”, this was a curiosity to break trail and just venture on a compass azimuth not a trampled path. Trails were where the bad guys ambushed you. Trails could throw you off course on the way home. They can tend to all look alike.

This picture reminds me of that first glimpse into a dense woodline when you say to yourself, “Wow, that’s gonna be tough” and at the same time you admire the beauty of the stand of trees…. but the tough part is getting started. The picture also reminds me of asparagus spears and I’d really like to get some for dinner.

One can do worse than be a steamer of asparagus.

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