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They are all nude now.  As far as I can see, every single one is naked.  No, it’s not a zombie apocalypse of nude monsters.  Nor is it some nudist resort.  I’m talking about the trees on my property.

All of the leaves have fallen.  Except for those on a couple of determined oaks that hold onto their dead leaves until early spring, the wind and natural forces have caused all of the colorful leaves to hit the ground.  Some in my yard, covering my grass, and some in the woods. Lots of leaves.

If I’d waited until now the wind would have blown most of them off of the grass.  But no, I had to rake, blow and mulch them to satisfy my impatience.

The differences between the landscape of the summer and the winter are fascinating.  During the summer the trees are filled with leaves.  Those same billion leaves that have just fallen to the ground.  The leaves create a wall of green so that all you really see is the front row of trees and the tops of the taller ones. It’s obvious that there are a lot of trees, even if you can’t see them.  And the fact that there are hills is also clear due to the uneven  line of the treetops.  But you can’t really see the trees.  In this case, you can’t see the trees for the forest.

Approaching winter, now with the leaves off the trees, the view is completely different.  Even with a blue sky and brightly shining sun the scene is grey.  Now you can see every tree trunk up and down the hills.  All of them grey.  In just the right light they look more silver, but not at all brown.  Large and small, tall and short, straight and crooked, each one is clearly on display.  No hiding behind the leaves.

With the trunks in view I can see every undulation of the hillside.  It’s really a series of ups and downs, back and forth.  There are several paths through the woods, which I knew were there because I see the neighbor as he appears from the woods each morning while taking his daily walk.  I’ve never been on the path because it’s not my property, although the neighbor has told me I’m always welcome to hike there.  There are also some water courses coming down the hillsides.  They only carry water when it rains really hard.  And lately its been raining a lot so I’ve seen the water. I can also see the rocks on the ground, large and small, mostly grey with specs of quartz and mica.  And the fallen trees and rotting stumps throughout the woods. I know there are also some animals living out there.  I’ve seen their glowing eyes in the distance at night.  Armadillos, possums, foxes, squirrels, chipmunks, deer and coyote. Not to mention the field mice and snakes.

I once had a job where I was responsible for maintaining the grounds of the business campus.  I made a point of touching each and every plant and shrub and tree. I even planted a few trees.  It may be hard to touch every one of the thousands of trees on my property here.  And even harder to inspect each one carefully.  But given enough time, and enough diligence, I can probably do that. And yes, I’m still planting more things. I started with a few shrubs, but have moved on to trees now.  A red maple is on my Christmas list.

I love every flower and tree and plant. Except poison ivy.  So it’s a joy to explore them all.  And to see how the changing seasons alter the landscape.

That’s part of my story.  Whet’s yours?


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IMG_1103 The dog was barking at the window. From the sound of it I could tell she wasn’t looking at a squirrel. Or another dog. And she definitely wanted to go outside.

So I got up from my desk and took a step toward the door to let her out as I do a thousand times a day. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something through the window. That is what she’s barking at!

Unbelievable! Coming down my driveway, eating everything in its path was an honest to goodness monster. No, not Godzilla or Gamara. Nothing quite like that. It was a machine.

Rolling toward me, on four giant tires big enough to make any monster truck weep, was a yellow bodied machine with a buzz saw at the end of its single arm. Spinning and chewing with both delicate precision and shark like ferocity.

I ran to the door and was outside so fast that dog didn’t have a chance to follow. As I ran toward it the contraption was turning around to start back up the other side of the driveway. Still shredding trees and branches. There was a man inside. My God, its eaten him too I thought. But he was the operator. He could not see me or hear me, so I ran on to the truck that was still headed my way.

Looking more closely I noticed that the truck and the saw had a logo on them. I don’t remember what it said, something about power and trees. They were here to trim the trees along the power line right of way. At least I knew I wasn’t going to die.

Do trees have feelings? I don’t know. I do know that they bleed when you cut them. And I love my trees. But six months ago one of the big ones fell down in the yard, across the driveway, and took out all the power lines and phone lines. Internet that is. It was a real mess cleaning up the tree, part of which is still lying in the woods waiting to be cut up. And getting the power and internet back were a real nightmare.

So I understand why the power company wants to keep branches off of their lines. And it’s ok if they trim the branches. Neatly. Sometimes they just hack away and it looks like a giant rodent came through and gnawed away at everything. Sharp and jagged splinters of trees standing, or leaning, where healthy trees once towered.

My mother stood guard over a beloved purple beech tree every year when the power company came through. They would have to get to the tree through her. And every year they left the tree, and the crazy lady alone. It’s a gorgeous tree.

I talked to the man running the crew and he reassured me that they would clean everything up. And that they wouldn’t be back for several years. I thought about asking him to leave the ground up mulch for me, but that would be a lot of trouble and I already had enough tree issues to deal with.

There are lots of trees here. Some I fear will fall on the house. Or the barn. Or the cars. Or even me. But the power lines are safe for now.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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Miss Madeline

As part of my Halloween celebrations, I went to the Wild Rumpus parade on Saturday night in downtown Athens, Georgia.  What a blast!  High energy.  Lots of fun.  And wonderful costumes!  Creative and elaborate, or plain and simple.  Those in costume were obviously enjoying themselves.  As were the spectators.

Costumes ranged from jellyfish to young giraffes.  Of course there were a numbers of monsters and ghouls, but also Star Trek ladies, ladies of the evening, flappers, brides, and even a woman who was dressed as a strip of photos.   Like you get from a photo booth.  But there was one person, who I caught out of the corner of my eye, who I would like to thank.

Miss Madeline, French schoolgirl, I thank you for making an appearance.  Why her?  When my children were young, I would read to them the stories of Miss Madeline and her fellow schoolgirls.  And we would sing her song too.  Don’t remember the words now.  But the best part was how every book ended with the words, “And most of all, we love each other.”

So, when I drove the girls to school everyday I would say to them, “work hard, do your best, and most of all, we love each other.”  To this day, many years later, all we have to say is, “and most of all…” and the meaning is understood.

This morning I got a letter from my youngest daughter.  At the end she wrote, “and most of all, we love each other.”  Thank you Miss Madeline, whoever you were.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?


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