10 September 2013
One Tree Woods
I have yet to be hypnotized by my new therapist, but I'm finding the experience of talking things out to be valuable. She suggested, a couple weeks back, that I create a little bit of forest in my Wallingford house. I universally feel alive and well in the woods--where I'm the only human around, I'm breathing fresh air, I'm listening to bird song, I'm surrounded by towering, pulsing Life. The city pulses with life, that's for sure, but it pulses in a high-pitched, frantic, frenetic, noisy, busy way. Some people find this exhilarating. I find it enervating.
I understood her reasoning for bringing a bit of forest into the home, though. Some evergreen needles and cones to touch, some cedar essential oils to smell, a recording of twitters or breezes through trees to listen to--it was so that I had some tools, some triggers, to find that peace and clarity so natural to me in, well, nature. When things got a bit overwhelming, I could retreat.
I didn't want to bring Nature into my home in that way, though. Over the past several months I've done a good job of updating my house to be my ideal of a home, and I don't have an interior place singing out to be Forest. We are far from aseptic in our habits, but I do try, mostly, to keep the outside outside (that being said, one of the things I love about the holiday season in the winter is bringing in big vases of evergreen cuttings . . . I know, inconsistent, right?).
Out in the back yard about ten days ago I suddenly remembered a thought I'd had much earlier in the summer, which was to clear out our city equivalent of the country trash heap--the hidden space behind Ian's workshop and under our ancient fir--and put in a tiny slate patio so I could sit out there, in the farthest corner of our property from city bustle, and just be. So, while Ian worked on cleaning the trash out of his workshop so that it could be a workshop again, I armed myself with gloves and a shovel (but not a face mask, which would've been a healthy addition) and took out our old composting stations. I dismantled an old metal mesh box Ian had made 12 years ago and hauled out stacks of dry, dusty twigs and shovels-full of decaying needles. I dug up our two green cone composters (abandoned when the city began picking up food waste several years ago), spreading one bucket of dirt infused with moldering eggshells and avocado skins under our currant bush, then deciding to bury the rest of it back in the composter holes. Even though we'd just experienced a couple tropical-style deluges, the space under the tree was bone dry, boding well for year-round use, but not so good for major works. Moldy, composty, ancient dust swirled, coating my sinuses with black.
Decades ago in an earlier incarnation of our back yard, there had been a plank-defined bed around the foot of this old tree; I cleared out the rotting wood and Ian and I rebuilt the bed, measuring and sawing new pressure-treated 4X4s (more noxious dust lining the nostrils). I leveled the ground and re-purposed some slates (that Ian had made into a path) for my tiny patio, carried in one of our director's chairs, and voila: forest at my city house.
One Tree Woods!