Paper Birch


04.10.14  I knew the light would be beautiful this morning when I went out for my run.  Overnight, as in everything these days, new seeds had popped out on the birch trees. Like the trees themselves, they are so delicate, so paper-thin, so fine.  When the trees die, their branches are hollow, with sawdust inside, held together by the strong water-resistant sheets of bark used to make baskets, canoes, and writing paper. They grow together in a community, and when the winds finally bring them down after their deaths, the roots of the neighboring trees are intricately entwined together, as if they are holding hands, and you can see that they needed one another to make it through all the years of storms.  They are as beautiful in their death, as they are in life.

And, the loons have returned!  I heard their call at least five times in the late afternoon and evening.  One of the things I remember the most about building our house, 13 years ago, was coming down to the property, in the month of April, and having Carl tell me he had heard loons on the lake.  I had never heard them before, but had read about their legendary plaintive call in stories.   The following April, I first heard them, and it’s been a rare year we have not.  It always brings tears to my eyes to hear the first haunting call, wondering if it’s a lament for a lifetime companion or lost love.  If I hear it in the middle of the night, it can take me a long time to go back into sleep.

The other thing I remember about that April day years ago, was asking Carl, “when does the sunlight finally come down the forested hill behind us and reach the kitchen window?”

He said, “about 9:30.”  And, at 9:30 in April, here comes the sun again, every year.

“Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky,

We fell them down and turn them into paper,

That we may record our emptiness.”

Kahil Gibran


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