The woods today are chill, finger-numbing. Water seeps up from the saturated earth, soaking through my shoes and socks. I cringe as the damp hits my toes, and then remember the cold drought of winter. I will my feet to relax, imagine them as roots drinking deep. I am an Ent, stalking through the trees of my little Shire.
I am an Ent, slow and waking. Short days, long nights, Lyme disease, and cold temperatures sent me into a blurry half-hibernation from which I am beginning to wake as the crocuses fade back into earth and daffodils spike up from red clay. The earth here is ancient and demented, casting up a chaos of blades and blossoms, occasionally a lone lucid memory of the past–a plastic dinosaur, the head of a hammer, its wooden handle long since rotted away. Once, on the day of the Solstice, an actual blade surfaced among the sleeping bulbs of daylilies–an unfamiliar carving knife, slipped from someone else’s hands.
I am an Ent, rumbling to myself in long and fractured incantations–fragments of “The Waste Land” laced with planting lists, desperate reminders of things I should not forget. The garden is still mostly sleeping. It is too saturated to plow. In this heavy clay, a footprint is a killing blow, compacting soil so that seeds struggle to germinate. Last week, the garden slept beneath several inches of late March snow. I have only begun to imagine starting the tomato and pepper seeds.
I am an Ent, my memory long yet tied to a place, a perspective. I move slowly, toes to earth, cautious, mistrustful of speed.
I am an Ent, mourning what is irrecoverable. The bees frozen in the hive, the rejection letters, the chances missed, the books I will never read, the places I will never see, the people I will never meet. Sometimes I try to think about everyone in the world all at once as individuals. Do you ever do this? It is impossible, of course, but I like to try.
I am an Ent, and yet, as Ents go, I am a young one, impatient with my own slowness. Waiting is difficult, and it makes my roots itch. Will any of the hens hatch out chicks? When can I plant the seed potatoes and onion sets lingering in their paper bags in the basement? I am impatient with coldness, illness, rejection. I am tired of waiting. Some mornings there is not enough tea in the world to wake me, and yet I chafe under the weight of the unrealized, scanning the mountains for rainclouds.
“What are the roots that clutch…?”
I wonder when to clutch and when to let go. How much rain is too much, not enough. If I am too slow or too fast, too hot or too cold. I know this–that waiting, too, is a place where life must happen.