Saturday, February 27, 2016

the stick

They came and killed the trees today.
Or at least they seriously lop-otomized them. If spring is i-cumen in in Santa Monica, the sap in our trees won’t be rushing to the edge of the foliage to see it, for we aint’got any. More seriously, the sunlight that filters through the leaves as we have breakfast on the patio will now fall on us without intervention.  
Such is the downside.
The upside is that our tree barbers left behind a rain of stick.
Adam soon spotted the sticks including a long, tapered, easy to grasp number, which he promptly seized. And thus he was inducted into the four dimensions of stick-ness.
The four dimensions are, as every child knows: a. the sword; b., the drumstick; c. the gun (or as Adam thinks of it, one of those things that goes pu ew pu ew and shoots out balls, his interpretation of a paint ball gun ad he saw); and d, the poker.
Adam began by flourishing the stick like a  sword, and followed in exactly the above order. Actually, there is a fifth dimension – the cane – but Adam has not figured this out yet. Or perhaps he is not interested. He did have a model in me, when I was hobbling about on crutches all last summer. Maybe Adam, like his Dad, had enough of that nonsense.
I remember the sticks of my youth! To find just the right stick was one of the scouting talents you picked up if your home was anywhere near a stand of trees broad enough to be called a woods or a swamp. Our neighborhood in Georgia was furnished with both the woods and a swamp, and I spent many a happy afternoon in one or the other, building big muddy dams, pacing along trails, climbing trees, and playing the games: hide and seek, treasure hunt, pirates, and other, jungle-themed ones. It seemed that a lot of children’s tv was set in jungle locales back in those days. Inevitably, sticks played a large part in all of these games.
In Northern Georgia, at the time, there was an abundance of pine. I’ve heard that some beetle borne plague is steadily de-conifering Georgia, which is a shame, even though the conifers are surely an invasive species, which came in after the first cutting. Pine sticks usually had rough bark on them, and you had to strip it off. This usually left your fingers sticky with the reisen residue. Sticky fingers and that green coniferous smell form a leitmotif of my spring days in the fifth grade in Georgia, and I imagine it was the same for many another small child.
As well as the scratchy ramble through the underbrush, and the looking for gold nuggets in the creek (we must have seen some film about gold panning in the North Georgia mountains). Also, catching crawfish in jars.  I also remember a long vine which hung above a hillside that descended int o a ravine, which you could, nerving yourself, swing on.
That was the world in which the stick held a great importance. Still, today, when I go hiking, I like a good stick. I keep a watch for them. When I find one big enough, I use it to walk with. Of course, it is not really necessary – I’ve never been on a trail where I had to use a stick to pull me forward. However, it is psychologically necessary. I like the nice familiar feel of the point of the stick coming down on the soil, perhaps indenting it a little. And I like, most of all, the companionship of it. In the stick, I am allied to all of nature.
I rather envy Adam his coming discoveries in the stick department. Although… he is bound to be a Paris boy, and we don’t come by sticks so easily in the streets, there. In the park, yes. And when he is visiting his relatives. At the moment, here in California, this is one of the perks, I guess.

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