Friday, November 14, 2008

Small and slow

It turned out to be three and a half inches of blessed rain. And the world of our small acreage celebrated. The birds, instead of feeding, sang. Invisible chorales.

Today the tree man, Lee Davis, has come. He will auger holes around the drip line of our stressed trees, and fill them with good compost. Vertical mulching it’s called. I, edgy after the many well-intentioned injuries we have inflicted on the trees, am simply trusting that it will do no harm and may do good. He is a “certified arborist”, which is what the experts have advised people to consult when they have stressed trees. Alors…

What makes it worse, though, is that I’m not there. I had to run in to Houston for a couple of meetings, so this work on the trees proceeds in my anxious absence.

Anxious seems to be the refrain of my life, presently. Press on, that’s the sage advice. Ignore the anxiety, whatever its cause, if you can’t do anything to alter the course of what you’re anxious about. Trouble is, anxiety forced underground has a way of bubbling up at inopportune moments. Still, those moments lie in the future.

Presently, instead, I will think of the small miracle of nature I saw this morning, as I waited for my car beside a planter, filled with lariope. There, slowly oozing along one narrow strand, was a quite beautiful snail. In my garden, I deplore snails, of course. But this was in a concrete planter, ten feet from San Felipe, one of Houston’s busiest thoroughfares. The busy people dropping their cars, hurrying inside to their appointments, would never see this little fellow.

But I was waiting, so I bent down to watch: The perfect dappled gray and creamy texture of its soft body emerging from the crisp brown striated shell; its extraordinary patience, clinging to the narrow leaf; its perfectly formed tiny horns. How did this creature arrive in that unlikely place, three feet above the pavement, in a container with sheer sides that—at this restrained pace—would surely have taken him days to scale?

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