Our new home at the bottom of Pilot Butte is slowly being converted into a livable habitation. It isn’t there yet by a long way, but progress has been made. Because we had a part-time business of online book selling, we had acquired thousands of books. That little pleasure source became a big pain when we chose to move several hundred miles to a new house in Bend, Oregon. Five thousand books makes for a rather small bookstore, but it makes quite a problem when one is carrying them up and down stairs, then across some distance through rooms, and then trying to re-catalog them into their rightful places. It may take months to finish that task. In the meantime our house is a mess and not quite a home.
Today, in the late afternoon, we decided to take a pleasure walk around our new neighborhood. The weather was a bit blustery and cool but with a shell of a jacket it was okay. What surprised us a bit was just how nice our neighborhood, built-up in the 1960s, was and how unique each of the residences was when observed closely. When first viewing this neighborhood it seems that everything is the same shade of green, but on closer inspection there are many different shades of all the vegetation and many kinds of trees; Ponderosa pines are common but almost without noticing it the landscape changed into a forest of some species of juniper by the end of the next block. I am used to junipers being about twenty feet high and standing individually out in the sage brush, but these were on the lower slopes of Pilot Butte and much taller and thinner and mixed in semi-solid with Ponderosas and houses. There were many other kinds of trees, but I will need to break out one of our tree identification books before there will be much botanical detail to those trees.
I like to make up a New Year Resolution every year – usually it’s an unusual one by most people’s standards; About ten years ago it was – Be more intimate with trees! – With that motto in mind on our daily stroll that year, we would observe the different individual trees and make observations about them. Of course there were soon favorites and we would comment about their general appearance, health, special features and fittingness to the local environment, as we made our rounds. Some trees became our friends.
Strange to say this friendship became a problem because many of the trees we grew to love were removed for construction or sickened and died. Partly, I suppose, because we liked the appearance of the old trees best because they had developed more character. So many of the trees I felt intimate with were removed and I started becoming suspicious of my casting a curse upon them. It felt like our loving them was causing their early death. It was silly, to my intellect, but trees are not beings of the intellect; they are not even things of emotion. Trees are a core beingness, some would say of a soul. Anyway, they died, and I was emotionally saddened, and my mind, which tends to seek answers, even where there are no answers, became overactive.
This first walk around Pilot Butte brought back memories of our earlier intimate relationship with individual trees. I want to befriend them, but I hesitate. They are perfect just as they are now.
Life is transient even for trees. Pilot Butte is said to be 190,000 years old, so perhaps I should think of it as a friend, but even here, with this pile of volcanic debris, I hesitate because it already has three huge scars created by gravel companies chewing away at its beautiful flanks. We must appreciate it even as it is changing and what we see is being destroyed.
Everything in the world is transient; we must love it as it is.