Lately, to add to my other foibles, I’ve been staring at trees. I’ve always been a bit of a tree freak but in these STRANGE TIMES (sorry), I’m becoming a bit obsessed (in my defence, I am shielding, but not for much longer!). The fruit trees are fat with buds and every day their baby fists unclench a little. The things is, I want to be there when they open. I want to see the actual reveal. So I’ve been watching trees.
Of course, I do know leaves don’t open like that. I’m not stupid (as I often tell people so I think I may often seem so) but still, there must surely be an actual moment when they do that final ‘Here I am!’ thing. The final flourish, lowering frilled cuffs, lifting open palms to the sky. The journey is over. Time to enjoy being a leaf.
I like actual moments, the part where something that is, suddenly isn’t, or something that isn’t, suddenly is. Like sunsets and songs and opening doors. Or the actual moment when it starts or stops raining. Once, when we lived in London, the cat wouldn’t go out the back door because of the rain. As he zigzagged down the hall to the front door, I explained patiently that it would be the same there. But when I opened the door, it wasn’t. This is one of my favourite Actual Moment Memories.
Then there are seeds. My morning search for tiny heads pushed through damp earth, is a favourite time of day. Will there be something, where yesterday there wasn’t? Will there be a life? The tiniest tip of a finger, bravely raised? ‘I’m small but I’m here!’ With these sunflower seeds I nearly missed it. Some of them had coats on their heads, as if fearful of the light. You can see two seed coats, which finally fell off, at the base of the stems.
There’s a quote from a book – I can’t remember which one – where someone compares falling in love to falling asleep – slowly and then all at once. Leaves open like this. Nature is like this. Life can be. Personally, I think this is how the world was created, that there is design, pattern, a curious symmetry but that it happened slowly, and then all at once. Of course, we have pulled much of it out of shape, knifing its fragile skin with things like greed and plastic. But you can still see it, if you look.
Slowly and then all at once. So much of life is like this – growing up, finding a partner, raising children, moving house. Then there’s ageing: deep down you don’t think it will happen to you. Such a shame for others, though. Then one day you’re hanging out washing with someone else’s hands. (Wait, are those MINE?!? No! They belong to my grandmother!)
Covid came like this and it may go, slowly then all at once. There will be no moment, no actual reveal. So maybe it’s time, to take the coats off our heads, welcome the light. A new world is coming and it starts now, the tiniest tip of a finger, bravely raised. But you can see it, if you look.
Meanwhile, I’ll stare at trees, just in case…
Click on this link to watch a short but amazing video of leaves opening over a period of one week.