Our power-mad HOA slaughtered several trees this week. I was home to hear the last of them fall to the fearsome teeth of the chainsaw.
I heard the roar of the chipper shredding life itself into mulch.
Now all is quiet.
Somewhere between 1.37 and 1.79 miles on my post-workday walk* on a treadmill at the gym today a favorite old word came to mind. I was watching CNN on a screen just off to my left – Fox News being a few monitors over to my right, of course – when it happened.
“Toady,” my brain said. I can’t say for sure if this was triggered by the sight of Rick Santorum or Lindsey Graham, but they both appeared on the screen just minutes apart.
Unsure if either of them met the actual definition of the word, I looked it up when I got home. Among other things, I’d decided I absolutely have to use toady correctly in a poem that is beginning to take lumpy shape in my brain.
What surprisingly fond amphibiotic memories came rushing back!
…the toad hotel my siblings and I built from corrugated boxes on the banks of the Little Cedar River, which flowed gently just behind our childhood home in Mitchell County, Iowa.
…the tiny toadlets leaping for their lives, desperately trying to escape the deadly blades of my reel mower in the big back yard in Cedar Rapids.
…the lovely toad sculpture that lives on my desk in the basement under the watchful eyes of a Milton B. Davis carving of a Golden Eagle.
Toads. You gotta love ’em, warts and all. Toadies, not so much.
* A brisk 3.2 mph on a steadily increasing grade, prelude to semi-vigorous and repeated lifting of weights.
Nature doesn’t exist
apart from us, and we do not live
apart from nature.
It surrounds us, permeates us.
We are in it, and of it.
We are no less a part of nature than
chattering wrens and howling wolves,
flitting butterflies and buzzing bees,
mountain forests and lakes and raging
rivers and meadows alive with wildflowers.
Squirrels outside a window,
birds at the neighbor’s feeder,
mule deer grazing on a hillside
take what they need to live
while we claim to be wise.
Imagine a bull moose, shy and alone, just out of sight to the left, the east. There is no fog to the south, just pine-covered rock piles, gap-toothed hills blocking your view in the near distance beyond the meadows. More distant, through the gaps and barely visible, untold miles away in the sunshine, there are mountains.