Friday, October 23, 2009

LOOKING FOR GOLD

I've long had a thing for yellow maples. This love affair began with big maple which stood by the back gate of a house where I used to live. A beautifully shaped tree, about 35-feet tall with a rounded crown—dense limbed, and more spread out than those of a typical maple. Every October that maple decked out in the most intensely yellow-gold leaves of any tree I've ever seen.
A few days after it colored up, there'd be a solid carpet of those magnificent leaves on the ground, though the bulk of its bright leaf-treasure still remained up in the tree. I can't begin to tell you how much I looked forward to this precise autumn moment—how I longed for those maple leaves to turn yellow-gold and begin to fall.
More than simple desire or anticipation, it was a yearning, an ache which never really left my psyche, but simply lay dormant from winter through spring, stirring like a waking beast sometime in mid-summer when heat smothered the land and cicadas ratcheted incessantly. The trigger was likely some internal awareness that time was indeed on the move, that in spite of current appearances, a point now not too unthinkably distant down the road would be reached; the seasons would turn again…and it would then be autumn and time for the maple by the gate to turn yellow-gold.
From that instant of realization onward I could scarcely contain my impatience.
When the joyous day finally did arrive—when the gate-maple's leaves turned brilliant yellow-gold with a good scattering on the ground—that magical conjunction meant I could now participate in an event of singular, soul-cleansing magnificence.
I would make my way under the tree, quietly, reverently…and simply stand.
A yellow-gold carpet lay at my feet and covered the ground all about. A yellow-gold domed ceiling began just above my head and extended, layer-upon-layer, blotting out sky and sun. Moreover, many sweeping branches connected high and low with a yellow-gold curtain.
The effect was of being suspended in a yellow-gold world—bathed, immersed, drenched in this single vibrating color. Every dark granule was instantly swept from the deepest recesses of my heart. I was transported, filled with what I can only describe as a holy illumination…as if God had momentarily opened Heaven's door and allowed a rapturous light to stream forth.
Regardless of whether it was cloudy or sunny—morning, midday, or late-afternoon—the world beneath that maple was always glowing. A light which you could feel, which poured over and around and into your being…a light which felt alive.
How do you explain such a thing? To tell others of this is to expose yourself to certain ridicule. And yet it is true. Crazy as it sounds…true.
Since moving away from the house with that wonderful maple by the gate, I've been searching for another tree to take its place. We're talking a couple of decades. If I had the time, I'd try to plant and grow one here beside the river—except logic and the actuarial tables says that's not an option. So the best I can do is take to the woods and explore, amble along various forest trails each October and hope.
And sometimes I do come close to finding another yellow-gold tree that shines all the way into my heart. A maple that uplifts me whenever I stand beneath its October-clad branches. Trees along the trail where I made the photos for this post seemed promising. So did several other individual maples I admired and photographed recently. Close, but not quite imbued with that ability to transform me with their light.
Yet I'm not discouraged in my search. Some day I'll find my elusive maple. For I know with a faith founded on fact that such trees do indeed exist. I sincerely believe that somewhere out there, there's a yellow-gold maple, waiting…just for me.

32 comments:

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

. . . waiting to bless you with its golden glow . . . again.

Exquisite post Scribe. I've trembled under a tree or two just like that - trembled in sheer reverence.

Rowan said...

It doesn't sound in the least crazy or ridiculous to me - and even though you are looking for another golden maple the original one is still with you and, if you close your eyes, you can see it and experience it still, so strongly is it etched into your psyche. This is obvious from the wonderful picture in words that you have written. Sometimes we are granted only one wonderful experience like this.

Scott said...

One day, two decades ago, I walked down an old woods path in my natural area. The path had been planted in the 1950s with alternating sugar maples and Easter red-cedars. The maples grew much more quickly than the cedars, which are now just barely hanging on in the murk beneath the maples. On that one morning, the light was just perfect and, like you, I imagined a pathway to heaven along that allee of yellow-gold maples. Every October since that day, I've walked that allee, waiting for the pathway to open again, but so far without luck.

Bernie said...

You have made me lonesome for my childhood home as we too had a huge Maple tree on our front lawn and I loved it and we played in the fallen leaves each Fall and enjoyed the new buds each Spring.
They announce the season better than anything I can think of, I love this post Grizz.....:-) Hugs

madcobug said...

I understand how you felt under that tree. I love the trail through those woods as well as the other pictures. Thanks for sharing. Our leaves still have not changed very much. Helen

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bonnie…

That is precisely the phrase…"trembled in sheer reverence" Exactly how I felt standing under that golden maple.

Thank you.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Rowan…

I know what you say is indeed true, that "sometimes we are granted only one wonderful experience like this."

But I don't want to think it is all behind me—relegated to a time forever passed, a mere memory all that remains. Because there are days and times when I need that tree, that moment and feeling‚ again….

I'm glad it doesn't sound too peculiar a desire or behavior.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Scott…

Maybe Rowan (see her comment above) has it right i that such experiences happen only once—I know that to so often be the case with other magical moments outdoors.

Yet what encourages me to hope otherwise is that for all the years I lived in that house with the maple beside the gate, the trees effect on me was consistent—an instant moment of the divine, as though a beautiful, holy wave had washed over my soul. Too, I get intimations of this elsewhere, under other maples.

Maybe it is just me, or maybe not—but the best course of action seems to keep looking.

P.S. Don't know if you are a lurking reader or a first-visitor to Riverdaze…but either, way, welcome. The riverbank is always open.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bernie…

None of the maples in my childhood turned much of anything other than a tannish-green…so no early memories there. But as a family, every fall Mom and Dad and I spent a lot of time rambling the woods and fields, along streams and lake shores—looking at leaves and flowers, scouting hunting locations, fishing, gathering nuts and fruit, gleaning leftover corn from fields following harvest to feed Dad's multitude of backyard squirrels. Playing in the leaves was always something I did and lived—including rolling down steep-leaf-cushioned hills.

If I've transported you back somehow to your own childhood days, that can't be an entirely bad thing, can it?

You're right, too—trees and skies, the wind on your cheek and the birds in the air, all do a fine job of announcing the seasons.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Helen…

I'm sure you'll have your turn at the color wheel—though for how long and how brightly…who knows?

There'll be other colorful days here, I'm sure. Yet a lot of the leaves have come down today, more will follow, and I'd be willing to bet I'll not see another golden maple woods again until next October.

Gail said...

DEAREST GRIZZ-

oh my this writing is so beautiful as are the pictures of golden shades of heaven. I feel th pece and glory in yor heart as you write of that maple just outside the gate of where you once lived. I feel the pull to a time that was - memories that fill your soul - images that dance in your heart - visions that surround you with golden love - oh this tree does exist - it's just the other side of the fence - the other side of this life - it is eternal home.

I love you
Gail
peace.....

joanne May said...

Hi,
I just jumped over from Rowen's blog to see you!:)
I love Maples too. I am growing three Japanese Maples at the moment and they are turning into the most amazing red colour. I think Autumn is the best time of year for colour.
Thank you for sharing such beautiful photos, of golden leaves and lovely words too.
Best wishes.
Jo May.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Thank you for such a lovely response—and thank you for believing, as I do, that my golden maple is out there, somewhere, waiting for me to find it. As silly as it might sound, it's this quest that often fuels my days with hope.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Joanne…

I'm happy you followed the trail from Rowan's lovely blog to this Ohio riverbank—and glad you liked the photos and prose.

I have a red maple started near the cottage, but it is yet tiny, just a few leaves. I'd like to put out a few more because I love those red maples, too. And no, nothing beats fall for color.

It's just so easy for me to spend a day gazing open-mouthed at trees in their bright leaves…I don't understand how some folks can simply pass a yellow-gold maple, or a cherry red oak, or any of a dozen other species which so dazzle my eyes, and yet never give them a second glance. Personally, I can barely make it to the grocery store without running the truck into a ditch while gawking at trees.

Again, you're always welcome here. Thanks for commenting.

Wanda said...

I was outside twice today in the misty rain standing under my gold maple, experiencing the fall of leaves, trying my best to capture it with camera as the wind swept them down and out in a gentle curve. I hope I captured that feeling...haven't yet looked to see! I will be disappointed if I haven't!!!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Wanda…

Hey, that makes two of us! I was outside two or three times, between showers, trying to catch the light off the wet leaves and some of the leaves falling as well as those on the ground. I've only had time to look at a few shots, so far—and some of them are good; but I'll be real disappointed if some of the others don't come out for me.

So, good luck on your pix! At least we both had the right idea.

Bernie said...

Grizz, I had a great childhood with many wonderful memories of it, anything that takes me back to it as your post did today makes me happy. I hope you find your golden maple again my friend...have a great weekend.....:-) Hugs

joanne May said...

Hi again,
Just a little return visit...
Thank you for the lovely reply to my comment... I can see you do have a true passion for Maples and I can understand that completely.;)
Staring up at trees can be very calming and even a spiritual experience... Spending time in nature!
I will visit you again. Lovely to meet you.:)
Jo.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bernie…

I had a wonderful childhood and growing up, too. No kid was ever blessed with finer parents. I wouldn't trade—those days and memories, lessons learned, times shared—good and bad—my family, for any amount of wealth.

I'm glad I could send you on a return visit to your special time and place, too.

Take care…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Joanne…

Thank you for a return comment and your nice words. I visited your blog yesterday, and I was quite impressed—with your artistic work…with your eye and talent, and all those lovely pieces you've created. Love some of the illustrations. And your cats!

I hope you continue to find some things you enjoy here. I do love trees—and nature in general.

Nice to meet you, too. I'll be back to your place for a longer look soon.

Jayne said...

Oh, how I smiled as I read your post. They really are the most lovely of sights, aren't they? :c) Indeed, there is one decked out in all its splendor just for you...

Sydney said...

NOthing short of beautiful. And you bring the whole experience to each of us so well with your writing and with how in tune you are. Reading your posts is always like a drink of cool water or a meditation for me. The pictures of the trees are stunning!

The Solitary Walker said...

I hope you find your golden maple. But I suspect that you will not. It may, however, be enough to know that it is out there somewhere. Or in there?

Lovely piece.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

The woods outside are absolutely glowing.
And I understand the palpable, yellow light that surrounds you when you're in a maple wood.
I walked this morning, and although cold and damp, there was a warmth within that was fed by the rich glow.
We do not need much more than that, do we?

TheChicGeek said...

Hello Scribe....This is a beautiful and heartfelt post, as always. Your pictures and your words are such a treasure to your visitors. The golden glow of the maple, breathtaking.
In California we have Aspen trees that turn golden and they are so lovely to behold too. The maple with it's dark branches and golden leaves is truly a gift from heaven.

I wish for you to find another golden maple that will grace you with its magical glow :)

Have a Wonderful Weekend, Scribe :)
Love and Peace to You!
Kelly

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jayne…

They are, truly…because somehow their golden glow finds its way through your eyes to your heart.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Sydney…

To walk among the golden maples is, indeed, a natural meditation for me—and if I can somehow communicate even a smidgin of that to you, through words or photos, then I'm humbled by such success. Thank you.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Solitary…

You may be right…because I expect one seeks gold not for the wealth of its finding, but for the greater treasure acquired along the trail.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Nina…

I know you understand the longing behind this post, because…well, because you know the richness of the soul to be found in land and sky, and wind on your cheek; you find your solace, your reason, out there, in those quiet glades turned golden in October's light.

Thank you…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

ChicGeek…

I've often dreamed of being in the western high country when the aspen turn golden and shiver in the autumn wind. I think that must be one of the most glorious sights on this sweet earth.

Hope you have a good weekend, too.

Robin said...

I haven't been able to get this post out of my head.

I don't know what I've searched for (or am searching for) that you've touched, but it's there.

...It just clicked.

My husband and I had to rent a cottage in Door County Wisconsin because we had to leave our apartment of 6 years with very little notice.

We drove with our Golden Retriever to the place we had never been...homeless at heart. It turned out to be more of a house, on Lake Michigan with a huge deck facing the water.

One morning I went out on the deck and it was so incredibly foggy; the white birch stood out like ghosts. You expected rain, but there was none.

Then I heard 'rain'. Didn't see it. Didn't feel it. But it was the unmistakable sound of.... rain. It took me a few minutes until I understood that the fog was so thick, it coated the leaves of the trees and rolled off in big drops, hitting the ground with fervor.

The awe of it still takes my breath.

..............

My other thought as I read was how grateful I am that you have a child. Did she grow up having you explain the natural world to her, as you see it? Does she have your gentle, rich, textural descriptions following her every day?

My father has a strange relationship with nature, but when I was young he taught me about clouds, the weather and storms. He would sit me on his knee out under the carport during storms and explain it all to me. To this day, I haunt porches and windows when storms roll in. Took my Californian husband a while to get used to it.

You have a beautiful way of seeing, and a better way of describing and it ought to be in a book somewhere that we could hand to someone young and say, "See. This is real, simple and true. This is what can bring you home."

Thank you.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Robin…

I don't know that it's true for everyone, but for some of us, there's a longing… for something…more need than desire, vital, calling, compelling us to search. There's often a mystery at the core—though I know that, for me, it is not a mystery without solution. Place, feeling, mood? Whatever, truly possible.

I've camped in the north country around Lake Superior amid fogs such as the one you experienced. Awakened to the dripping of water off pine needles onto canvas, a patter not rain but born in mist. And I've had a similar experience or two in other places—including once in Ohio's hill country when, like you, I stood in the open, knew it wasn't raining, yet could hear the unmistakable drip of water. I'd almost forgotten those times, but thanks to your lovely description, they're renewed and fresh.

I tried to teach my daughter what I could as she was willing to learn. She knows much, is smarter than me…but her interests aren't much to the outdoors or nature. Perhaps in time.

It may be that the last few sentences in your letter are the finest compliment anyone has ever given me…and I hope with all my heart I deserve such words. I could never ask for more. Thank you.