Dendrographia (den-dro-graf’-ia): Creating an illusion of reality through vivid description of a tree.
Here we go again. The one-hundred year old oak is a pain in the ass—especially in autumn. It’s probably at least fifty feet tall and three feet in diameter. On average it probably grew about six inches per year. It’s bark is nearly black with a tinge of light grey and some gray-green lichens attached to it. At its base is a little hollowed-out arch where I sometimes see a Chipmunk peering out when I ride by on my mower.
But, the hell of the oak tree is it’s leaves: turning reddish brown and falling off the tree by the friggin’ truckload: it’s a leaf storm that lasts about two weeks. I call it Fall Flutter Down. Cleaning up the fallen leaves is a family affair: three rakes, one tarp, one whining teenager with “better things to do.” We load the tarp over and over, and drag it to the curb and dump it over and over. The city has a giant vacuum cleaner to suck up the leaves.
Raking leaves is a pain in the ass with no redeeming value, except, I guess, getting it done and keeping the family intact while doing so.
In November, the acorns start falling and a pack of gray squirrels shows up to bark and chatter and eat, carry, and bury the nuts all over the yard. All winter, they’re out in the yard digging them up, and pooping and peeing on the fresh fallen snow, giving the front yard the look of a wildlife restroom. Some of the buried acorns sprout and I enjoy mowing over them in Spring as a kind revenge.
Now the old oak tree is undressed: branches naked, acorns on the ground, it casts shadows that move in the wind of Autumn’s final weeks. The squirrel’s nests are revealed now. There will be babies born, and I must admit I enjoy watching the little ones play on the tree and front lawn.
In a red sunset the tree’s shadows seem alive or maybe like the soul of the old tree caressing the earth—the home of its roots and womb of its birth.
Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)
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