Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Turkeys, leaves, etc.

I came across a flock of turkeys this morning, feeding in a little hollow filled with pine trees. They were scattered across the trail, so I actually waded right in among them. In typical dim-witted turkey fashion, they were very slow to react to my presence. If I’d been a hungry coyote, I probably could have taken one down before they even had the sense to start running. I felt sentimental about them as I watched them flee. There’s something endearing in the awkward stupidity of a panicked turkey. But the predator was alive in me, too, and thought about giving chase.

It’s cold here for this time of year. The temperature was just above freezing, and I was reminded how the winter chill subtly changes the texture of everything. The surface of the lake is glassy, reflecting the sky and the trees with a clarity never seen in the summer. The dirt along the trail is denser, not dusty even in dry weather. The bark of the trees always feels a little damp under your hand, and the moss doesn’t crumble the way it does in the heat.

A steady breeze was knocking the leaves loose from the treetops, and as they fell they skittered off the branches, making a delicate rustle. I stopped to listen and thought That’s the voice of death. Death has a beautiful aspect, as well as a sad one. It's the joy of something set free, released from the confinement of its living form. The random, dry whisper of falling leaves is the sound of that unshackling.

Tree-Man, Hieronymus Bosch (c.1450-1516)


Bozo said...

How many ways can I say it: these essays are wonderful.

And speaking of Bosch, Michael Connelly has a new novel out where defense attorney Mickey Haller confronts Detective Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch for the first time (those are characters from other Connelly books). I haven't read it yet, but it looks kind of cool. Certainly noir.

BitterGrace said...

Oh, you only have to say it one way, B; and strangely, I never tire of hearing it. Thanks.

I haven't read any Michael Connelly, but I heard something about that book on NPR. It does sound good.

Lucy said...

I remember pouring over that drawing when I was a kid, my bigger sister was in art school, and I didn't know how to read yet, and I would look at her books when she wasn't around and be spellbound by these mysterious illustrations...I never thought to ask anyone about it, either. I so enjoy the wonderful writing of this site, it's like getting out of the city for a little while when I am not able to myself

BitterGrace said...

Hi, Lucy--Sorry I'm slow to reply to your comment. I lost track of it when I was out of town.

I wonder if the Bosch drawings scared you a little as a child. They scare me a little now. I'm glad the posts give you a taste of the outdoors. That's the plan ;-)