DECEMBER of 2020

I’ve been trying to find words to express the sight of an oak tree crashing to the ground as we drive by. Just across the fence from us, in real time. And the discovery later, of an even larger giant lying on the ground, torn, mute.

So I’ll begin instead with some human news. Seems, out of nowhere, a couple from San Francisco would like to buy our Portland condo. If I were talking to you, at this point you would say, “well, not ‘out of nowhere.’ Apparently they’re ‘out of San Francisco.’ ” Hahaha, you’re funny.

Anyway, they made an offer, we countered, they accepted, and the earnest money is in the bank. The inspectors have come, haven’t discovered any deal breakers, so the clock is ticking toward Feb. 10, the closing date.

And the fun begins: We knew that one day we would have to sort out the closets, drawers, shelves. Keep all the hundred CDs which no-one ever plays these days? The books? Powells is not buying back books in this time-of-Covid, so it’s off to Good Will or the libraries. I’m surprised at what trails behind me as I move through life. Time to let go. Easily said.

But about the trees. Maybe these photos can express something which I’m struggling to say:

Oregon White Oak in the south pasture. White Oaks can live 500 years. Do trees have souls?

After it fell.

To answer my question, read The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben. “A paradigm-smashing chronicle of joyous entanglement that will make you acknowledge your own entanglement in the ancient and ever-new web of being.”

See, I love this! Beautiful writing about the first great mystery.

When our neighbor, Ted, saw this ancient giant on the ground, his engineer brain took over. “How much to you suppose this thing weighs?” (I had given its weight no thought at all.) “You could take one of those wedges of firewood,” he earnestly began, “and they’re really heavy, right? So you could measure . . .”

Not going to happen. Marjorie, his wife, suggested that the tree looked like a semi lying on its side. Hmm. True, but. At that point, Terri, another neighbor showed up, walking her dogs and the conversation veered to a painted bunting seen at the the Barnes-Stuart bird feeder.

Gorgeous! (Don’t worry about this neighborhood gathering — we were outside, maintaining our 6-foot distances). But the question of the tree and its soul, the ancient web of being, had wandered too far to be reclaimed, and we all found our way home.

And it’s now Christmas Eve. We had tried and failed to see the “Christmas star” last night in a clear and cloudless sky. We’ll try again, but this evening we’ll be listening at 5 0’clock, our time, to the broadcast of Loyola Highschool’s Christmas Eve service. I hope this is filled with music, not so much preaching . . .

Larry has been out attacking the everlasting blackberry brambles along the first creek, running with water now after the dry summer. All the Christmas Eve music in California can’t exceed the lovely sound of running water in a creek. I think.

And if you’re interested, our Christmas day feast will feature Larry’s smoked ribs and a new loaf of his amazing sourdough bread. Not traditional, but we do have those cookies and my fruitcake to bring our meal to its proper conclusion.

Happy holidays one and all, we’ll meet again in 2021!