Tuesday, March 20, 5:00-6:15 p.m.
The spring equinox arrived in the night, and today will be as long as that night, but the temperature is more that of a summer day, almost that of the summer solstice. Out in the relatively open ground of yard, meadow and orchard the birds vocalize and flit and feed and preen: robins, bluebirds, woodpeckers, sparrows, red-wing blackbirds and crows. The gurgling melody of the song sparrow rises above the crows’ rusty calls, but inside the edge of the Eastern Woods, where the descending afternoon light reaches in through leafless branches, a quiet calm prevails, disturbed only by the buzzing of large summery flies. The flies heard the call of a small, freshly broken branch, oozing fresh sap, and first came one, crawling quickly and greedily about the sapling’s trunk, shortly joined by two more. From how far away did they sense the banquet, and how?
Below the tree with the flies spreads a perfect jumble of human refuse, the smallest corner a confusion of broken lines and rust, objects half buried and parts of other objects thrown on top of the heap. It is an unofficial farm dump, a tradition of country living. The pile includes wood of all kinds—broken crates, pallets, boards, an old wooden soft drink crate and discarded chairs, with one large fallen tree and many branches mixed in. There are also sheets of metal, sections of old furnace ducting, a kettle, an old charcoal grill or two, rusty appliances and more than one old sugaring pail. There are concrete blocks and wheels, bits of screen and old doors. It’s hard to find anything that is whole and unblemished. Maybe impossible. One old wooden trunk has so rotted out that the old leather handles hang in black, twisted scraps, and light penetrates into the formerly secret interior.
Man is part of nature, too. There is no separation between the branches and the boards, all tumbled together, and the wild leeks and spring beauties are undeterred by the presence of manufactured refuse. An old alarm clock, missing its hands, crawls with tiny ants. This place is as peaceful as a cemetery. Through the trees, in the west, Lake Michigan is bright blue.