The Gift that Explodes, 5 : Whispered Leavings

Notebook 5

This constitutes the 5th page of the Notebook given me by my daughter…here it is in typescript:


In Which the Leavings Whisper

Indeed there are times of leaning toward cold and the dark.  We huddle close, our woods seem silent, even emptied, so we hush and sound our whispers, to blend them into wind, its Winter.

I speak of the dangers – presumption and preference – too-devoted attachments to our particular woods.  You hear us sing their praises, we dance like them in breezing sunlight, pattern our coats according their colors, entrust them to shelter and shade us, providing our true light and fire.  We claim them the hardest and strongest, the Durable Ones.  We come to cling to our woods as life.  Dear child, it is not long before we view them as the “only.”  The Most and Highest, the Broadest, Richest, Rooted Deep.  We worship their hold, celebrating their fruit.  Develop our rituals of cultivation by tending them daily, each of us making our rounds, repeating the woods until they are all that we know, all that we love, the scope of which we are able to see.

Hush and beware, my splendid dear, for here is where the quiet comes.  The times we call The Leavings.  These very woods to which we cling, within and upon which we build our homes, nourish our bodies and fuel our fires, compose our messages and texts, which provide us with movement over long waters and vast mountains of snow – keeping us warm all the while – just when we revel most confidently in their glorious splendor, their rainbows of color and light-glowing hue…they begin their wandering away.  Day by day, as the cold is approaching with its elongating nights, they drain of their colors and begin letting-go.  These, my child, are The Leavings.

As we cuddle near their time-trusted fullness and warmth, they appear to us bare, barren, and grey.  We look up, we cry out “the woods!  the woods!” and our sound shrieks right through, we are staring at stark and the Gone.  Seeing past in icy clarity, our woods exposed and stripped – if we do not close our eyes in terror, but look far, far beyond our own tangled thicket of woods…far, far beyond, my lovely, farther even than the eye can see…are more woods, and more, everywhere woods making scents for their peoples, sheltering and shading them, burning and abandoning them as well.  If we hush and refuse ourselves despair as we see our woods give out, in turn setting ourselves silently to listening and keenly looking out – we can know the lessons of the Leavings.  That there are further woods than ours, many woods and other, only farther out.

We grow easily impatient of our woods in our discomforts and our panics and our fears.  Yes there are countlessly many Leavings – you can count on them, and by them, but my tender one, if you will persist and endure, if you are open to their lessons and their silence, the woods will come back to you, freshly and new.  There will be young woods you never knew before, and the old ones return too.

Our woods are never so much lost as that they undergo strange changes.  They break and wither, shrivel and drop – they must shed themselves of their embellishments and gathering continually – so they might produce themselves again, altered and renewed.  Their many uses over untold years are logged within their roots and cores, marked and divited, scarred and sapped – it is for us to remember and adapt, let go with them and wait, wait, enduring the Leavings with all that we have, slogging onward toward new growth.

Oh yes it is frightening to feel all is lost, sweet child of wonder, but our woods never fail us finally, they leave us to be born.

And this is why I gather samples wherever I happen to go – fruits and nuts, leaves and needles, parts of any woods I chance to see or hear – in order to remember and remind in times of Leaving that somewhere, and at any time, we will live again in woods that will be full and bright, returning the woods that we’ve known toward our unknown need.

Now rest, child, rest…the night is quiet and cold, let the woods hush and whisper through your dreams…

click this image for the document in its current entirety:

Notebook - Ida

On the Anniversary of Our Wedding

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The Forest of Marriage

(Happy Anniversary Holly Suzanne!)


I’ve never felt sexy or young, my memory is chained like an old growth forest accumulating decay.  Remains tough to destroy.  Why would I want to?  Perhaps for you – so lovely to me – youthful, vital, your non-submissive and consistent new growth.  Your winding ways, nubile bends – how do you regenerate yourself?

I’ve no doubt my dying fertilizes and enriches, our scent expands.  Some wreckage crumbles beautifully, overgrown and softened by corruption.  But it’s not the same as planting seeds, a puppy’s not a dog.

Steep.  A word for danger and infusion.  Calamity filters through.

Seed.  It is not uncommon for your resources to sprout fresh things in me.  Renewal, come in.  I am fertile in layers.


I’ve aged tall and long and twisted, hoary with moss and tangled by vine.  Formidable, while spongy in places.  Your green shoots pierce me, exposing my slowness and rot, my muffling stance.  You crack me open, engender new soil.  I collapse and give way, I adapt.  It’s a marriage.

I wouldn’t say “handsome,” thought at times picturesque – in a rugged way, and worn – tendriled with you growing green.  The occasional strength to bloom: I mushroom, you flower.  I fungus, you shine.  Together we develop our wonder.  Some stop and look, others stay awhile, everyone traveling through.  The coupling is not unfortunate – providing nourishment and shelter.  There’s always damage.  Having endured, still I am fragile, and you, with your gentle, tenacious roots, ever purposeful and true, yet transplanted and remaking, storms can threaten with uprooting.

We are called by one name and belong – a vast generality for incalculable kinds.  We don’t mind.  Old or new it’s still growth; what dies and what’s born construct a joined density.  I lean on you while providing shade, you straighten me as you fight for necessary light.  We are one seething thing, steamy if un-sexy, cross-generative and moist.

When the fire burns, it destroys and begins.  Gaining as much as we lose.  It takes time – symbiotic – establishing roots we combine and recover, shed and absorb, co-create and depend.  Relying on the same in our differencing.

Reaching again in each instant’s climate.

(I love you beloved wife – happy anniversary – and here’s to continual renewal and the sustenance of old growth)