Sunday, April 28, 2013


First flowers open.
A person looks,
The blossoms look back...

I approached the Japanese maple, walked right up to its dangling crown and ducked past its low-hanging, star-studded canopy.

Inside its dark amphitheater, the maple trunks were dark, simple, serious shapes twisting into the cloud-swept sky.

I chose a particular branch, any branch. 

This was how I could watch the wind.

I was also on the look-out for shadows.

With the sun in the right spot, with the trees just barely leafing out, this is the time of year to catch the silhouettes.

That’s actually the pawpaw…

…and those are the pawpaw flowers, hanging like little bells, green and purple and papery, caught at last.

This is a game that I can only play in the spring.

Fun with trees or catching silhouettes, whatever you want to call it.  Identifying a tree by its shadow is a good little mindbender, makes your head feel like it’s working inside out…

…that’s a horse-chestnut.

I wonder if this is how some birds identify trees, if they play this game.  

It's a fun way to test the identification skills, a different way of seeing the ordinary, like trying to solve a Zen koan or a riddle:

            green buddhas on the fruit stand,
            we eat the smile and spit out the teeth.


This is also the kind of game that needs a big lawn…

…unless you’re able to find a tree massive enough to hold its own shadow.

That’s the way I could watch the sun.


This was a day made for nature-lovers: cold, crisp, clear and sunny.

The wind was outstanding.  It came in waves.  I could hear the next wave approaching in the trees further away.

And the light?  The light was tripping me fantastic.

I’m not one for hyperbole but this was the most beautiful, most splendid day of the year.

And because there would never, ever be another day as beautiful or as splendid as this day, I had the insatiable urge to stand still.

Friday, April 12, 2013


It was just too nice a day to spend it cooped up in the office so I rigged up a quick little workplace, outside, in the shade of my favorite birch tree.

It was turning out to be a great day of work, with the sunshine lighting up my desk and the breeze dancing over my keyboard, lovely birdsong playing all morning long from the high, swinging treetops.

And, best of all, I was just about to close on one sweet-ass deal, putting the final touches on the big proposal that I’d been brokering for my boss all winter long.

I just love the feeling of a good deal going down.

I love everything about it.  I love riding the ebb and flow of a tight negotiation.  I like catching inside information.  I like wrangling over the details.  I like that pregnant pause in the action, waiting for the final approval, and I love getting things in writing. 

I love it when they start watering down their demands.

That’s how I know when to strike.

And I just love saying the word deal-breaker.

I took a break around ten o’clock, promising myself this would be my last cup of coffee for the day, and tried to catch some spring from the office window.

Wabun the Golden Eagle, Spirit Keeper of the East, was really here…wings spread wide, aloft in full flight.

I could see the callery pears already starting to burst with flowers.

There was also the ginkgo, just about to leaf out, two days after the rise of spring’s first new moon, just as I’d predicted.

Not that I’m the kind of guy who says I told you so.

And I really should catch up with the cherries.

All in good time, I told myself.  Once this deal goes down, I’ll have all the time in the world for tree-hunting.  I was jumping out of my skin…just one final approval away from the Big Bonanza.

The forecast? 

Nothing but blue skies ahead, one hundred percent chance of raining money…the longest, hottest summer ever…Jon Spruce finally living it up in Fat City, nothing but champagne and caviar, cruising around the city in my Cadillac, lighting my cigars with hundred dollar bills.
I got back behind the desk, back on the horn…and that’s when things starting going downhill.


I’m not really sure what happened.  Surprise demands, unforeseen commission rates, someone hit reply all and then some schlub in their Accounting Department turned out to have the ace in the hole.

After one short break, the whole deal went lopsided.

Meanwhile, I had my boss on the other line demanding the latest update, wondering what was taking so long.


I tried to get everybody back in the pool but they all had cold feet.  Just like that, they were unavailable or they were on another call.

And just like that…no deal, back to square one, back to counting pennies.

From riches, back to rags.

I don’t have the heart to summarize all the nitty-gritty details.  Rest assured, citybillies, it’s the same old story.

Heads, they win.  Tails, I lose.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


I woke up this morning after another one of those fitful nights.

Tossing and turning, I just could not settle into a steady state of sleep, I don’t know why.

Going to sleep was never that easy but getting up never used to be this hard.

Walking outside, I stopped dead in my tracks.

It’s freezing and I’m not surprised but I’m tired of it. 

Where is spring?  Where’s the show?

Where have all the flowers gone?

This isn’t the spring that’s advertised, not the spring I was expecting.  This is not the spring that’s promised.

I don’t know about you but I’m not taking it lying down anymore.  I’m tired of waiting around for spring, waiting around for flowers.  They’re out there.  I’m sure of it.

Forget the errands and ditch the plans…I’m going hunting for spring flowers.

I went back inside the cabin and laced up my boots.  This winter might be hanging on longer than expected but it’s got to be spring somewhere in this fair and filthy city.  I grabbed my field guides and I grabbed my hat.  Then, I punched some buttons on my iPhone and I downloaded some apps.

I got a Thermometer App and I got an Altimeter App.

That’s right.  I’m going to start this hunt at the highest heights.  I’m climbing straight to the top of Philly Mountain and I’m not going to stop until I get to the lowest low.

I’m going to scour this city top to bottom.

Somewhere along the line, I’m going to find some spring flowers.

One quick look around my apartment in case I was forgetting anything.

That’s right.  I’ll need my mountain lookout journal and a good pen.  Now just need to fill up the canteen with some cider and I’m set…on my way to the top of the city…up, up and away…