Thursday, November 13, 2008

Body: Green Yearround.

There are several times throughout the year when I find myself thinking about evergreens.

I think about them a lot in the summer because whenever I see one it reminds me of camping. In Flint, we had two maples in our front yard, and so I really only saw a lot of needled things whenever I went camping, with Boy Scouts or with my dad, or when my family went on home school field trips. The pines and firs always seemed more muscular and stern than the broadleaf trees I saw elsewhere, and the evergreens have that kicking sharp sap smell. This discrepancy is one of the reasons that the city always felt more docile to me, more manageable and accessible, whatever Flint's reputation turned out to be.

When we moved out to Flushing, the suburbs, for many years there were two looming spruces that overshadowed our house, a farm-house; they made it feel like a cottage, they were so large and shadowy. So, of course, I also think of evergreens during the holiday season. When I was young I imagined that Santa Claus' domain was presided over by an absolutely gigantic pine tree (and it had to be a pine), thousands of feet high, with scaled-up ornaments serving as factories and workshops. The sleigh launched itself from the prong of the star on top, or more likely from the angel's arms. And the trees were prominent in my thoughts in December of 1992 (I think), when we visited three different Christmas Tree farms. We wanted the perfect tree, and when we finally got home with one, it was already dark out. We carried that small tree into the house between those towering spruces.

Today, in Chicago, again, I don't see evergreens that often, although there are some. I remember last winter I was exploring Margate Park, a neighborhood near my own, small and secluded, with a psychiatric hospital, a lot of Vietnamiese immigrants, and a relatively affluent strip along Lincoln Park. There are some beautiful, if small, groves of evergreens there. I remember them now because last year I noticed that sharp smell, that bright green, jumped out in the middle of winter stink and slush. It was January.

I might go back again soon. Evergreens make the cold part of the year feel less desolate.

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