Saturday, April 28, 2007

Spring updates

Spring has come..now more than a month ago...to our hills. The little orchids from which my daughter got her middle name, thanks to her older brother, are in bloom, scattered pink and white in the shadows of old firs. In some hidden corners the white trilliums are up.

Winter is gone. But so, says Sara, are the little foxes. She is concerned that the gray foxes (who are only distantly related to the quick red fox I used to try to type about) are no longer seen near her coastal home. They were there: the townsfolk watched them play with their kits and climb trees--gray foxes climb trees, and like fruit as well as mice. She saw them a year ago in February, when they were mating. And then she went away for a journey, and returned, and no one saw foxes. Not anywhere.

Being a methodical and curious woman she is in touch now with the local university and is trying to figure out what is happening. That I have seen foxes in my woods does not console her for her loss.

My friend Woods, when I talk with him about the foxes, supposes it is loss of habitat. Lots of beautiful expensive homes being built out along the coast, lots of brush and trees being cleared. He doesn't worry much about foxes. No, he is worried about the amphibians. Where are the newts, he asks? What has happened to the frogs?

I have a goodly population of newts in my shaded forest, and I hear the frogs and toads calling their mating calls every place I walk, but Woods--who is a scientist and should know--says they are gone from his area of the forests, north and west of my own.

I am pondering, along with many, the situation of the bees. Honeybees, that is. As Woods is quick to point out, we have lots of native bees around here who are doing quite well. The honeybees, he sneers, aren't native. Over the years I've known him he has been prone to lecture me a lot on my loves. I love the wrong birds, the wrong flowers, the wrong mammals. He has stopped short of telling me I love the wrong people...but someday he might continue to that as well. Stellar bluejays, european roses, star thistle--all wrong. I will never make it to naturalist's heaven, being unrepentant of my sins.

Certainly others are quick to tell me I love the wrong people. The young pregnant woman living in a tent with her husband in the worst part of the winter miscarried her child. She left her husband. Her husband left the area. She has found work at a local restaurant and drops by, ever cheerful, always hopeful.

The frail guy with the eyes the colors of the summer sky, known as Hobbit, was released from the hospital and is back on the streets. Still alive. He may make it through another summer, or perhaps not. "I don't walk so good anymore" he tells me "that's why I haven't been by to see you".

The mother who was living in a van with her daughter and her boyfriend, just down the road a bit--I passed the van often, greets me with a warm smile as I go to the market where she works. We trade casual good wishes. Her boyfriend raped the daughter, who bore a child, who was placed in foster care. The mother and the daughter--she's 13, think of it, just turned 13--did finally find a place to stay. The boyfriend was arrested last week, as the gossip murmured below the surface.

My friend Pat died last week, with her daughter and her long time companion at her side. Kevin sent me a poem of Emily Dickinson's as the news--the one about the going of the inland heart to sea. He and Pat met when she happened by his boat building place. I recall her saying what a delight it was to see these strong young men working on the graceful wooden boats. They did a lot of sailing over the years.

The neighbor whose apartment adjoins the bookstore broke down last week. At midnight we heard him howling and sobbing and screaming and crying. I have never heard a soul in such distress. We called the police. I walked one of the young officers back to the side of the building to listen (you reach the apartment from another road). He turned pale, there in the moonlight, hearing the lamentations and screams and the sobbing, sobbing, sobbing "I killed her, I am so sorry"

My fears were great, for the guy has a daughter...but in the end it was a drug trip, and possibly a broken heart, and possibly the weight of this universe pausing in one soul for a night. He's okay after some time at the hospital.

No one died this winter of exposure in my hills. No one died of hunger. Some people felt better for a few minutes.

Yesterday a beautiful young woman dropped by. We talked for quite a while, about books and life and travels. She said "4 years ago you let me stay overnight at the bookstore; I've never forgotten; it saved my life". I had forgotten. My memory is such a sieve when it comes to these encounters--but as she spoke, I did remember; she had mentioned a contact up north, and we couldn't bear to leave her to sleep in a strange town, a very young and pretty woman by herself, stranded for a moment.

She said "I've thought of you everyday for four years" and hugged me, and hugged my partner, and left to continue her journeys and her studies. She is studying to be a doctor, and wants to come back to this region to work.

Meanwhile my partner went for his first hearing on his trespass case; he'd spent the night at the congressman's office and was arrested after 20 hours. They've brought the charges down to an infraction. I read the charges...something about crossing a closed gate into a field, which made little sense. I read the arresting officer's report, in which the young man repeatedly mentioned the "elderly protestor"s respectful, serious, and nonviolent demeanor. Paul had told me, after the arrest, that the police had been close to tears.

It's a strange world, my friends. These days it seems a patchwork of light and dark, of beauty and pain, of wonder and sorrow.

But it is spring, and the air is heavy with blossoms.

8 Comments:

Blogger Lori Witzel said...

Blog-synchronicity -- I posted a short story this morning that touches on those disappearing frogs.

Lovely, lovely post, and darn you for tagging Marly first in your Thinking Blogger response!

Great big
:-)

8:14 AM, April 29, 2007  
Blogger Spyder said...

It's like coming home.

12:42 AM, April 30, 2007  
Blogger David said...

I have been hearing for several years that amphibians have been declining around the world. Last year, the theory was that a particular frog once used in the making of women's birth control pills had something to do with spreading a fungus deadly to amphibians. Last month, I think, I read an article that said that an absense of leaf litter on forest floors was partly to blame. I wondered, how can there be an absense of leaf litter in forests?! Well, the theory is that global warming is causing the leaves to decay faster and so amphibians have no where to hide. I read somewhere that pesticides contain chemicals that are very similar to sex hormones. These chemicals cause reproductive difficulties in fish and amphibians as they are washed into streams. It seems there may be a variety of reasons why amphibians are declining, all of them caused by humans! I'm glad to hear that the amphibians in your forest are still alive and well! Oh, I almost forgot, last week I heard the sound of tree frogs one evening. It has been some years since I heard that sound, and the first time in Indiana. The sound gave me a happy feeling. :)

I have also heard about the decline of honeybees. Apparently, the cause or causes are still a mystery. However, last I heard, Africanized bees, aka killer bees, are still doing quite well, and are continuing to expand their range in the southern and western U.S. I have always been interested in observing insects, and I have seen quite a few native species of bees. Perhaps the most attractive are tiny green bees that I see visiting flowers sometimes. They are about half an inch long with bright green irridescent coloring. I wish that farmers would make their fields friendlier to native bees. That might reduce their worries about pollination. Probably, a dramatic reduction in pesticide use would help!

I'm glad your friend Hobbit is doing better.

12:11 AM, May 01, 2007  
Blogger BSJ said...

I discovered your blog through Shirin in Engelestan... This post was the first one of yours I've read. And, what can I say? You are a true poet, and you write so beautifully. What a lovely post - thank you!

2:10 PM, May 05, 2007  
Blogger graceonline said...

It has been too long since I gave myself the gift of time with your stories. I feel so often as though I can smell the books--more old than new, the flowers--some blooming outside the door, others fading in vases--the animals. I see the cold, rainy days, the drizzly in-between days, the sun-slanting-through-the-window days.

Thank you for the time you invest in this medium. May you be ever blessed. May your heart stay strong through all the sorrows. May lilacs bloom every May and honeybees capture their nectar.

2:00 PM, May 06, 2007  
Blogger LiVEwiRe said...

Love for the frogs - it frightens me sometimes when we start seeing those changes. Now, on another note - it doesn't surprise me at all that the girl you spoke of remembered you and your kindness. So many people aren't willing to be kind these days. Or if they are, it's because they are looking for something in return. You seem to find the things that mean the most to others, no matter how simple they are, and hone in on that. You make people feel valued, cared about, by showing them that their concerns and situations are valid and worthwhile. That's all anyone ever wants - to be heard. Being there to listen is your gift. Acting on it is akin to sharing part of your spirit.

1:04 PM, May 11, 2007  
Blogger marlyat2 said...

I wonder what happened to my note... Perhaps I failed to put in those letters!

And now I don't have time to say more except a hello and that I am glad you live where the police can cry--or almost. Shall come back later, when my next bout away is done.

8:36 PM, May 15, 2007  
Blogger jarvenpa said...

Aha, lori--and I see you were in my state, though much south of my region (I noted your palm tree photos today--too much time away from your blog). I knew I had to grab marly first.
thank you, spyder, a nice thing to say.
and david..yes, the frogs, the bees. I'm glad you heard tree frogs; how do they sound?
bsj, thank you, I must visit your blog, and check again on Shirin; no news there for too long.
graceonline, you know I love your writing.
and livewire--I hope you are getting better and better (must get to your site today and check)
marly--well, you left a note on the post about thinking bloggers--was it that one you think vanished? or something else..I hope not.

all--Sara reports hearing a fox last night, things are looking up!

8:39 PM, May 16, 2007  

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