Being A Nut
Being a Nut
I wasn’t going to talk to anyone
until after I got out of the water
but one of the regular swimmers engaged me
as I was stuffing wax into my ears,
“I read your comments on the elist
about the pool plan and they were
enlightened, good,” she said and
then went on. “One of my co-workers
asked me if I knew Susan Bright, said
you were a nut.”
“Tell her to read my resume,” I snapped
before I had time to recall my resolve.
About half way down to the dam,
my hand cupped a new pecan, just breaking
out of it’s green outer shell.
It was floating in the emerald water.
These limestone creek beds with lush sloping
banks which have gifted Central Texas
with water for ages, are called Pecan Bottoms.
The stately, old, gnarled trees send tap roots
into water below the level of what we see, where half
the life of a tree occurs.
Above and below ground
pecan trees are integral to the habitat that spawns
our springs, filters rainwater
as it percolates through porous limestone
and flows into our creeks.
If you peel back one of these early, floating pecans
and inhale the aroma, you can smell the essence
wood resin, dirt, fresh spring water — green.
If you take it home, smell it again, the green
It exists, fragile and instantaneous,
here, in the water, right after the nut breaks loose from
an overhanging branch.
I wrote something on the elist recently
about a city proposal to cut down pecan trees, replace
them with other species, less likely to drop branches.
One of the children, a six-year-old,
heard us talking
about the pool master plan, said,
“If you stand under a tree in a storm,
it’s your own fault if you get hit.”
Later, she added, “You could hear
it cracking, and the lower branches would
slow it down, so you would have time to move.”
We tried to remember if anyone had ever been
hurt by a tree in Zilker Park.
Mark Twain wrote about a safe that fell
off scaffolding and killed a man who had been
standing below, next to a dog. He said the man
“were appointed by the lord” to be killed by
the falling safe. He said, “You might wonder why
the dog weren’t appointed.”
His answer was, simply, “The dog would have
seen it coming.”
I don’t want the city to cut down pecan trees
alongside our pool, or in Zilker Park, or anyplace.
I am against cutting down trees.
My grandmother, who lived in Pennsylvania,
in some of America’s most verdant woodlands,
built her summer living quarters around the trees
that grew alongside her creek so you had
to step outside and walk across a series of small
ledges built around the trees
to get from room to room.
By the time I got out of the water
I realized being a nut was a good thing.
In a global culture devoid of common sense,
this instinct for green could be
our saving grace.
©Susan Bright, 2007
Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-ninety books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.
*Photo from website of Sherry Williams.
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