Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Ol' Gardener

The Rites of Spring

O, Briar-rose, can’t you see how the mountains have toughened you?
Even the harsh storms of winter cannot subdue your fragile beauty!
When I see you bursting forth, I know that the annual rhythms are expressing themselves-
And that you portray the resiliency of all of Nature’s creatures.
You have risen above the frigidity of the previous season, which produced your subtle colors.

There was a time when the boisterousness of youth trampled upon you, when your subtle aroma passed unnoticed on the mountain air. But you persisted- each year you displayed your blossoms, if only for the bees to appreciate.
Your silent swaying in the springtime air could not be subdued.
And now that the contrasts of life’s honey and wine are too much for me, I see you waiting there- waiting for your moment- the Moment when the attentiveness of the bees is insufficient for you.
Now I see you, o Briar-rose, with a clarity that the passions of youth cannot attain. Surrounded by your friends, you create a new harmony on the once barren hillside, and show clearly the subtleties of Nature.


Little puffballs on a hillside arch defiantly to the wind-
Showing all their fragile color, as they caress the barren earth.
How I yearn to share their secret,
How I envy all their grace-
As I watch their dainty movements and their dancing in the sunlight
With a silent simple pace.
(captioned Design, Berkeley, 1967)

It was not enough that you satisfy only the bees, those that traded sustenance for your propagation. The Plan was more that that- the higher entities of life must interact with you. It must be more than casual observation that man bestows upon you- more than scientific indulgence. His spirit is lifted up by you, by your exquisite blend of aroma, color, and harmony. And he realizes, with time, that there is more than sensual- causing beauty, grace and form. He finds harmony with his own self, when he perceives your annual cycle.
And how quickly you do change, Briar-rose, throughout the day. How you do play upon the light- but is it only my perception which varies with the noontime light? Once I thought that you were a constant entity- but how I was mistaken! Even the bees know that your sweetness must be sampled in the appropriate light.


The low hanging mist clung silently to the early dawn
As the willowy marsh land beckoned to me;
Strange ghostly forms appeared in the morning fog,
And wove an unearthly web about my uncomprehending mind.
In that still twilight mist, I could feel the tug of the land.

I yearned to be a part of that ephemeral landscape-
So I clutched at it, but it was away from me.
It moved stealthily as life itself-
Always beckoning, yet forever in the distance;
And I felt closer than ever to that silent marshland.
(captioned Early Morn, Houston, TX 1968)

I capture you now, when you are in your best dress- O Briar-rose. Now is the time to see you in the springtime light, when all of your surroundings accentuate your furtive movements. Now is the time to become a part of you.

I climbed a high steep hill today,
Looking for my Soul.

The ridge seemed from another time-
A time when life was sweet.
I saw the swaying eucalyptus nod,
Murmuring about spring nights.
I heard the raucous jay,
Teasing me with his talk.
Soft breezes fanned my face,
But did not stop the search.

I looked in every drooping leaf,
To see if life blood was returning;
They talked to me softly,
Too faintly to hear.

I must go higher on the hill;
They say the view is best from there,
And I think that my soul is there-
Somewhere to the north.
(Captioned Quest, summer, 1967, Berkeley)

But I cannot ever become you, Briar-rose; I can only sense you. Your charms will forever be only in my perception, and will fade slowly- just like the evening light.

The old gardener looked at the new bud,
Carefully appraising it with a quizzical eye;
"There is yet hope, or is this still another hybrid rose?" Says he.

I developed it and the first blushing flower from a bare stalk;
I nurtured and raised it as my own, saving it from a watery doom.
But then I transferred it to a window box- and that was the gardener’s first mistake.

It has never since then been the same- but then it only unfurled its true beauty with my hand.
It was the hand that mixed it with those half-weed plants of another clime-
Yielding blossoms which I never liked.

It’s a new breed, says he, and not my own- I must let it go free.
I loved it, but it is not mine;
I saved its life, and thought ‘twas there to stay.

But then, a free thing is never owned-
Just as the gardener, so goes the rose.
I’ll prune the thorns that want to share their beauty, but ‘twill not be the same.

Since, I’ve known a rose that loved the gardener as its own;
The taste was O so sweet-
That I would give my All, just to save it once again.
(Captioned Nurture of a Rose, Spring, 1995, Verde Village, AZ)