Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Opening Up my View
Yes, it's springtime here in the glorious Great Northwest, and though the sky still remains gray most of the time, the chickadees are making a nest in the hanging birdhouse with the Tlingit Indian design on it that hangs from the Ornamental Cherry tree over our patio. The lilac are blooming on the side of our house, and I watch the purple, frilly bunches form, reminding myself to run out and clip some to perfume my bedroom at night. The days are blissfully long, and it's even light when we arise now, a major treat after the slap an extended daylight savings time dealt us early this year. Unless you live in the northerly regions, you don't realize how daunting hearing your clock-radio click on in pitch darkness can be.
But I have an additional reason for my mirth--my view is opening up before my eyes. No, I didn't get new contact lenses, though every morning when I put my lenses on, my gratitude in seeing the world is born anew--"Blessed are you our God...who gives sight to the blind!" I always say this blessing, "pokayach ivrim" when I have finally gotten in both lenses, and look up to have the world in focus. What a joy. That's when the day begins.
Instead, my view expands because of a peculiar fellow named James.
James walked into my life this morning wearing scruffy jeans, a sweatshirt, and thick canvas cinches around his waist. Hanging from rings on the cinches were heavy metal connecting rings, dangling like a prisoner's chains. James came into my home, walked through my house to the backyard and the deck, came into my house again and mounted the stairs to my office, where he went out on my balcony. "Yep, I see what you mean," he said in the drawl of one who might have inhaled too many marijuana joints. "Those have really got to go."
Anyone who knows me understands how my heart leapt at those words. He was pointing to the fir trees that in the ten years we've lived in this house have grown up to crowd out our once panoramic view of Lake Washington and Mt. Rainier. James is a tree man.
He loves to climb trees, and he doesn't mind cutting them, either. His card says he's an arborist, a specialist in ornamental trees, but he just loves being in them. It didn't daunt him that these trees had grown to easily more than 100 feet tall, and their spindly branches, having been chopped off probably the year before we moved in to increase the property value, now jutted in pairs and trios, growing up from the original trunk. James is awed by our view potential, and he even seems to enjoy it when I pluck my stack of photos from the drawer and show him, "This was our view in 1998...see, there's no tree there!" and "this is our view in 2006...see, the mountain's almost gone!" Yes, yes, he completely sympathizes. A man after my own heart.
Then there's the REAL man who's GOT my heart...my tree-hugging husband, the villain of the story. He has planted, oh fifty trees between us and our view. If he sees a wee patch of dirt, he is sure it's perfect for what will too-soon be a ten-story-tall Douglas fir. When we moved in, he went to a tree nursery with the horrid question, "what evergreens grow the fastest?" He just couldn't wait to jam our view-space with conifers. Well, now those Leland Cyprus require merciless chopping and they pushed a retaining wall down the ravine. Still, my tree-hugger would pay more to live enclosed in a forest than to see Mt. Rainier. And some people have deigned to publicly call this man a "right winger." Then he's likely to be the only one of his ilk sitting in a tree with Julia Butterfly to protect it. I love this man, and so, despite my irresistible inclination to tell James, "Go for it!" I told him my husband's one requirement: No killing any trees.
The good news is, James merely said "OK" and then swaggered his way down the ravine to do his work, with a hand saw, not a chain saw, throwing ropes up into the thickly needled treetops, clicking them onto his harness, and digging his spurs into the bark to shimmy so high, I'd have gotten vertigo.
A few hours later, there are lovely naked poles allowing me to see the shore on the other side of the lake, crowned by cute little toppers of branches, like a neat poodle after its show-cut. James got halfway done with the view, inspiring my great ecstasy that at this time tomorrow, I'll be able to sit in this very seat and see the vast expanse of fresh water that flows from the Cascades, and, as the backdrop, majestic Mt. Rainier. They're a major reason why I love this house. The reason I feel privileged to wake up every morning in my own personalized "resort."
Shortly after we moved here, my dear tree-hugger wrote an article comparing Mt. Rainier to God. Sounds a bit grandiose, but he suggested that just as we know that Mt. Rainier is there, looming large at more than 14,000 feet, even when we can't see it in the shroud of gray clouds that often blanket our horizon, we trust that God is continuing to propel our world, even when the evidence might cause us to doubt. Now that I'll have my view of the mountain again, I'll thank my husband for increasing my faith--for seeing it is not only is a reminder of God's continuing presence, but that we are in every way so richly blessed, in this greatest nation on God's green earth.