Day 94 9/27/13: In Praise of The Condemned

I just noticed how dusty my bookshelves have become and this saddens me. Writing a blog while bemoaning the changes technology hath wrought, seems sort of hypocritical, but I guess what I am really bemoaning (if that’s the right word) is that my attention is so much more fractured than it used to be. I almost need to teach myself to read for sustained periods again. I find myself trying to download something, sign a petition, comment on a post, and I always forget what I am doing, where I am going. Several windows obscure my desktop. Tabs abound. Yet in my mind I see the same simple images: a blue road snaking into the woods where I grew up. A kind of automatic pilot mourning process that unfolds while I am busy typing and clicking and forgetting the myriad tasks and distractions of the present.

For weeks, I have been talking about doing more for sharks, for the environment and today I signed up for some lectures to learn more about using blogs and social media, so that is a step forward. I feel like I am on the verge of understanding how to combine literature, writing, activism, etc. into some sort of non-profit project. I talked to some man just as I was leaving campus today. We stood on the pedestrian bridge. Below workers and machines excavated a new construction project. He pointed out two native oaks–I believe they were 100 years old or more—that were condemned. Diseased. “It is sad, but they must come down.” I understand that trees get sick. I still dream of trees that perished from Dutch Elm and the salt damage from winter roads.

But as I gazed at the distant pair of elms waving slightly in the breeze near the duplication office, I wondered how any tree could really be condemned. And I thought of all the things those trees had seen. All the history that would die with them. After so many months of heat and stillness, I am alert to the breezes and to the wind and how they animate the trees and people alike. I don’t know what this has to do with taking classes on blogging, or with sharks except that sharks, I believe, are older than trees and that this project has sharpened my sense of all that is beautiful and all that’s vanishing and how intertwined those two things often are.

English: Dutch Elm Disease strikes Badingham O...

English: Dutch Elm Disease strikes Badingham One of our larger trees a couple of years after being struck down. Now (2008) hard to see where the tree was. (Photo credit: Wikipediat