"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Saturday, May 08, 2004
ar-bo-re-tum Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -retums or ar·bo·re·ta /-'rE-t&/
Etymology: New Latin, from Latin, plantation of trees, from arbor
1 : a place where trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants are cultivated for scientific and educational purposes
2 : what most people don't have in their homes
I can hear them, right now, as I type this, fussing at each other in their high pitched way of fussing.
But, I get ahead of myself. Let me explain.
A few years ago, my wife and I (well, my wife, anyway) thought about building a new home. As a lot of people do, we went out and bought several of those "Home Plans" magazines.
I flipped through them. And I found them unbearably boring. I would look at the plans, and place myself in the structure with my minds eye, and think...
"Well, it's a house."
Maybe the kitchen was a different shape, or the stairs placed on the other side, or maybe there was one extra bedroom or so, but they all were, to me, just houses.
Until I came across one house plan that was awesome. I have no idea how the thing got into such a mundane collection.
This house was designed pretty much in a circle. Most of the rooms were open to each other. You entered in the front, then to the left winding around were the study, family room, dining area, kitchen. To the right was the master bedroom and bath, and I think there were some bedrooms on the second story as well.
But what made this house stand out was what was in the center of the structure. Right in the very middle of the circle was a round glassed in room with a glass skylight. The room was designed to hold trees and plants, and every room in the main areas of the house had a full view of it.
Now this was a house!
I sat there and thought how neat that would be. Maybe I would put in some fruit trees. Maybe tomato plants. Maybe all kinds of flowers.
Oh, and birds! I would have finches and parakeets and they would happily chirp all day long, flying around with their bright colors, and maybe even lay eggs and have young.
We never built that house. At least not yet. The boss wasn't real crazy about it anyway.
However, God has a funny way of making things work. He really does.
One of the previous owners of the house we are in right now was, well, destructive to a lot of stuff. One of the things he did was somehow lose the chimney cover.
We had been here two years when I realized that. Not much I could do though, in order to replace it you had to have about a 30' ladder. I don't.
So, I kicked around the idea of hiring a contractor to do it (and spend megabucks) and I guess that was when they first arrived, fussing and generally moving in like they owned the place.
Swifts, I think they are.
During the warm months, soon after sunset, they drop right into the top of the chimney. For a few hours, I can hear them fussing and chatting with each other, telling the other swifts swifty things that they did that day or might do tomorrow, where the best bugs were, and all kinds of good stuff.
When morning comes they clear out until the next evening.
After the first season was over and I felt they had left, I opened the flue expecting to find some foul smelling mess to clean up. Incredibly, there was no trace they had ever been there. How they do that I have no idea.
Heck, they keep better house than I do.
They have visited us for four years now. I still have not capped the chimney, and I might never do it.
No, I never got my arboretum.
But I got my birds, and they sing to me every night.
I value my garden more for being full of blackbirds than of cherries, and very frankly give them fruit for their songs.
Joseph Addison (1672 - 1719), 'The Spectator'