Sunday, July 27, 2008


I'm sitting beneath a ceiling fan and looking outside into the heat of the day. It's been one of the hottest in awhile: 86 Fahrenheit, which isn't too hot comparatively. This whole weekend I've been staying inside with fans or out under my canopy of trees that nearly covers the extent of my backyard (a very small one, mind you). Right now I'm watching the trees and houses that block my view of the mountains to the west. The trees are fluttering and covering themselves and are thankful they're once again protected from piercing eyes. In the winter, deciduous trees are so ugly here. I take that back, a good many are ugly. For some reason beyond comprehension, people around here don't trim their trees; they hack off their limbs so that in the cold months they look like crooked sticks thrust into the ground. I have yet to discover why people do this. In the summer they sprout little tufts of leaves, but they still look awkward among the rest on the block. I feel sorry for them, because they had no choice in the matter.

There is one ugly tree that I love even though it's ugly. There is a twisted old thing in front of a rather bad-looking set of housing projects. I pass this tree after I walk up from the cemetery just off of Route 33. It turns in every direction possible; the limbs are carved into lines like veins and reaches for Reservoir Street. I imagine if it didn't have roots it would grasp that dirty little street and carry it off.

The mountains are always beautiful. Now that the summer sun lights the valley until 9 or so, I get to walk towards them every day after work. The light from the sky or clouds shoot out behind the relief of their particular skyline. I can never bet what kind of color the mountains or the sky will be on a given day.

I've been blessed by good skylines in both of my jobs since grad school. In New York there was always the skyline of Manhattan to welcome my tired feet after a day of teaching. Now I have the promise of mountains to welcome my computer-eyes after a day of staring at machines, projectors and so forth. They are so different, yet they bring up the same question each time I look upon them: Why would you want to leave this place? How can anyone let themselves leave New York and push themselves west? How could anyone in the past desire to push past those mountains that cradled them with comfortable summers?

I guess I wouldn't have made a very good pioneer back in the day. If I were persecuted, then I'd go, but I don't think I'd have wherewithal otherwise.