Saturday, September 19, 2009

Rodent's In It's Hair... and yet

There is a man who might as well be dead down the street from me.  Since he might as well be dead I will call him a deadman, as further description can wait till later.  He stands there, in the grass, rodents at his feet and sometimes I'd swear in his hair.  Things always seeming to take from his expression, his bodily projection, the purity and vivacity that the rest of us enjoy.

It isn't hard to let yourself go.  And indeed, once you stop living, in any sense, you're as good as dead.  At least, that's the usual perspective.

Our deadman simply waits.  It isn't that in  his mien there isn't a hint that he knows better.  He seems to look to the sky at times.  And wonder at it in the matter of all of us who are upright.  It is only that he can't convince you that he is alive.  Kinda strange, but you'd pass right past him, another being in your midst, and never know he was even there, were it not for his simple failure to thrive: and simply love the well trod pattern that all of us know is normal: especially when something wanders from the path.

To be sure he spends:  don't all dead souls spend?  With the greenbacks he can conjure he goes to the usual places, asks for the usual things that all of us at times imbibe (and if not all of us, all the time, than some of us, some of the time.)  Of course, being a dead man, one can look in his eyes and say the truth, "You, sir, have a disease."  And yet his is a matter of scale, and time, just as surely as we are meant to see in ourselves, would that we had the strength to apply this same capacity of discernment to ourselves.

And it is not that all folks who pass him look upon his  face with pity and disgust.  In fact, the only dead man I ever looked at, with pure pity and disgust was in fact a hand.  A hand that reached from a door, to grab hold of a six pack of beer, and replace it with an empty six pack, next door to the house where I was taking saxophone lessons.  I was young, and to me, this unwillingness to even grace the street upon which you live with the face that you were born with... such that the only knowledge anyone would have of you would be your hand in the act of hoarding, and tipping the worthless artifacts of your day life's waste---- I was young and did not have the experience and imagination to build that man a face, and so pitied him and was disgusted.  So young was I that I laughed at him.  I ask you... do you think I will laugh forever?

I am lying of course.  My deadman down the street is not a person at all.  He is a tree.  A Chestnut tree.  An erratic outlier, in a world that means great harm.  When I first met him I thought he was a Buckeye, having only picked Buckeye's once in my life, in the nurse tree shade of a farm I worked on a long time ago.  Those Buckeye's were memorably smooth and beautiful in their finish, like an antique, but wrought as new as the end of June, or the Fourth of July.  Fireworks indeed in their inexplicable perfection as seeds.

So when I passed on one of my constitutionals a short tree with long leaves dropping a fruit to the ground like a spongy walnut, covered in spikes, my heart soared: I'd found another Buckeye.  They are somewhat scarce in this part of Indiana, and they are so very beautiful.  Unfortunately for my pride, my Uncle Tim's proclamation at his house five years ago, "Wow, you really don't know how to identify trees!" was as true as ever.  For this was no Buckeye, but a Chestnut, according to my Field Guide To The Tree's.  Buckeye's have smooth, spongy capule's (the green part of a walnut ect.) but Chestnut's are spiny as all get out.  They hurt your hand, be appraised!  They hurt mine anyhow.

This Chestnut I found near my house was a victim of the Chestnut Blight in the past.  It is now twenty feet tall, nearing the maximum for the height of such a tree, before it again succumbs to the blight that "killed" it in the first place.  Gosh!  How wonderful.  (You'll notice that wonder renders my language a softer tone.

It's Chestnuts are waiting to be eaten, or in the more typical fashion of our temperate wealth, to be eaten by the "rodents" that I'd swear bonnet the hair of the deadmen so close to my home.

Prior to the Potato, Chestnuts sustained people in the Appalachians (one in four trees were of the type) and throughout Eurasia (even today, important there) as the ubiquitous carbohydrate to nurture in dear times.  And today plantations have finally been developed in the Americas that incorporate genes of resistant species of the Genus; specimens that have hope in the coming decades of bringing Chestnuts to their former glory: ubiquitous, and sustaining.  Not deadmen, at the corner.


Ande said...

Hi Andy,

I found your blog on nauthis, which I follow. You have a very interesting blog with lots of thoughts about important subjects; if I had a garden I would start growing my own vegetables, it’s so damn expensive with biodynamical growth in the stores here.

I have an old friend who studied one year at Indiana Uni. Bloomington; he told me that it was a progressive place, and had lots of integrity. He didn’t know anything about the Midwest before and liked it much better there than the other places where Swedes usually go (NY and California). I have been to the east coast myself, but felt a bit slow-moving and ruffled when I accidentally walked through the fancy parts of the City, but it’s almost the same in some parts of Stockholm where people try to imitate this New Yorkers (having said that, I love Brooklyn). Hmm, sorry for the length of this comment; old memories. Anyway, great page.

Andy Coffey said...


Thanks, for your comment. And please don't apologize for commentary, or sharing of any length. I receive very few comments on the blogs, though quite a few people visit. I am thrilled you enjoy nauthis; Neil is really quite a guy.
I have some friend who share your nationality, and to say the least, there are quite of few of us leftist, or progressive, or liberals (depending on your capacity for criticism in the U.S of A) who covet all things Sweden, given Sweden's seeming progressive attitudes towards urbanity, and human scale living. That said, viva la difference! Everybody thinks that the grass is greener.
Bloomington is probably my lifelong home. And I dearly love Indiana, and have very old fashioned notions about place, and culture, for someone as progressive, liberal, and leftist (depending on your capacity to be criticized) as myself.
Feel free to send me your email address...
And if your ever in the midwest, feel free to call me:
@ (812) 679-7271. Midwesterners have a real unfashionable friendliness: and you love it too.

Ande said...


I can understand what you mean when you say that Midwesterners are friendly, I’ve heard this from my friend who lived in Bloomington. He was happy about the extraordinary mixture between the Midwest culture and the progressive attitude people had (the ones he met).

You are absolutely right: the grass is greener. I have friends who talk themselves glowingly warm over (parts of) the US. I agree with them in many respects; the USA has a kind of visionary quality, which has gone missing in most parts of Europe (I don‘t mean to generalize, its just what I perceive from here). Perhaps we need to get away (at least in the mind!) to get the energy to continue struggle on from where we are(?).

Hmm, Sweden, yes, this has been the heartland of Social Democratic politics for a long time. There is a right wing government now (who wants to wipe out the unique things about Sweden); I don’t know if this reflects a sea-change in many Swedes' minds or if it will disappear. I know that Sweden is a deeply polarized country today; the new power comes from the very rich in Stockholm and most progressive lefties are struggling to create a new unifying ideology to respond to this.

Feel free to drop me a line anytime:

Thanks! And if you ever visit Sweden: +46738294493

It has been great talking to you! Thanks a lot for your interesting comment on my page as well.