Thursday, July 30, 2009

Listen and look

After my half-hour fix of Channel 13 “news” this morning, I’m prepared to list a few of things I don’t care about:

1. Exactly how Michael Jackson died or precisely who was responsible.

2. What sort of beer President Obama, Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates and the cop who busted Gates as he struggled to enter his Cambridge, Mass., home, will drink when they get together. (In fact, I think they should drink lemonade, not beer; I recommend Minute Maid.)

What I do care about this morning are the sound of cottonwoods and sight of butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberose L.) now coming into full bloom along backroads and on the prairie, resurrected or remnant.

I could just sit and listen to the cottonwoods whisper for hours, and I’ve come close to doing that. It’s an amazing, peaceful, wonderful thing to do --- the cares of the day vanish, if you allow them to. The voices in your own head --- voices like those that obviously were troubling the president, the professor and the cop not to mention Michael Jackson --- still themselves. You become part of where you’re at, not just an isolated hunk of breathing red meat passing through.

There’s a spot in a stand of giant cottonwoods along the Twin Lakes Trail east of town that’s ideal for this. Haul yourself up onto the disreputable-looking picnic table under the trees and just sit there and listen.

Look on the hills to your right as you walk down the trail toward the cottonwoods and you’ll see emerging right now among the greens, yellows, whites and lavenders of high summer the brilliant orange fire of butterfly weed, my favorite of all the summer flowers.

I’m not prepared to argue the fine points of creation or the Creator, merely grateful that both cottonwoods and Asclepias tuberose L. were created.

To reach the Twin Lakes trailhead, drive east of Chariton a couple of miles on the gravel Auburn Avenue extension, enter the water treatment plant driveway and keep driving until you can’t drive any more and, if you’ve got a license, take a fishing pole along.

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