On the end of a trail that climbs 1400 ft in 2 miles on the Washington side of the eastern end of the Columbia Gorge is the remains of an old cherry orchard. The few trees left are blackened and shattered by wind, snow, ice and by their own brittleness. Some nevertheless endure, sprouting a single branch of leaves and this time of the year small green fruit are beginning to set, gathered in the remains of flowers. No less sweet or less young than those in the orchards across the river.
One tree is entirely fractured with branches splayed out, touching the ground like arms attempting to stabilize, waiting for some final surrender. Though there appears to be no longer any nutrient carrying cambrian layer to sustain it, a thin branch is flush with early leaves and green fruit as joyful as any cherry branch anywhere. On closer inspection the narrow branch snakes around the dead tree, caduceus like and down its trunk to the soil, the dark, silent supporter of the earths green joy.
Renewal arises through all conditions as long and as much as it can. Its growth arises from no force or power as corrupting as that of the world. There’s no hope or despair andno failure just the same fullness and brightness expressed in a measure that is environmentally possible, that’s able, given all conditions.
We are like the cherry tree, meaning, no meaning, purpose, no purpose are conceptual with ready made emotional reactions yet a flourish moves in us not made of thoughts, reactions or emotional negotiation. Our thinking reverse engineers our experience, placing it in a wholly artificial temporal pattern. Things that have transpired are selectively recorded through backward looking, seemingly following clear roads to our present. Life seems to move toward some future goal.
We then habitually approach the new with the old, as if the future of today could be found somewhere in our past.
Everything beautiful tells us of this mistake, of our stubbornness to see what we want to see and not the mysterious “is” that explodes before our senses. The most delicate and destructible of things especially speak this truth. Moving clouds, shifting light, delicate flowers and leaves and the most gentle of human actions.
It’s been a cold Spring so far. The Sweet Peas I planted are still small, pale, leaning languid against the lower wires of the fence. They do not wait however but live their fullest as conditions allow. Their relationship to the whole environmental event is total fidelity. In June the sweet scent of their flowers will be a distillation of that fidelity. A fruition without planning or waiting or success. All beauty is lightness and self appraisal the heaviest of burdens.