Ramifications of travel

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Peckerwood Pilgrim


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Creeper-festooned oak, White River National Wildlife Refuge, Arkansas

Coming home after ten days away that culminated in two sleepless nights on the return bus, one finds that things are not quite as one had left them. Were the woods really so bare and the field so drab when I left? Well, probably not. But chances are that my house had been just as small and lonesome as it now appears. I sure don’t remember my writing table being so cluttered, though. And where the hell did all this dust come from?

Only ten days, and I find myself groping to recover familiar habits, wondering at myself for doing things in such odd ways. On the morning of my second full day home, I can’t find my daypack, which I had just used the day before, and I rush all over the farm looking for it. When at last I find it, I’m completely baffled at my idiocy. It’s in the chair beside the door, right where I always leave it… I think.

One thing’s clear: it will take me a little time to get back into the writing groove. I am trying to resurrect an idea I had down in Mississippi, just before surrendering to wakefulness on the morning of the day I left. The phrase “decision tree” came to me, accompanied by a literal image of a tree branching downward, into the earth. With each arbitrary life choice, it seemed to me, the clarity of the open sky recedes and one becomes more and more enmeshed in particulars. Then a little later, when I sat outside drinking my coffee, I was struck by the way the large oak tree across the street appeared to be trapped in a maze of electric and telephone lines. Isn’t growing right-side up, after all, a far more hazardous and adventuresome route?

The fabled decision tree
dangles head-down,
rootless on the blackboard
in my dream. Each new
pair of twigs reaches
like a tuning fork
into silence.

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Old-growth bald cypress, Bayou DeView, Arkansas (photo by Mark Bonta)

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

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