Saturday, August 15, 2009

Wilderness Trak

If you will follow me past the culvert and over the crest of this little hill you will see that we have arrived at our destination: the tracks. If you ask me whether we are on the wrong or the right side of the tracks I will tell you that I do not know. We are on the side where weeds and trash mingle and happily coexist, a species of paradise, but beyond that I cannot say.

The first thing that you will see is the confirmation of our arrival: FE, sign of the element upon which the trains run. If you feel a thrill at the notion of trains it is the resonance of the iron in your blood with the roaring past of the iron horse on its iron track.

But we are not trainspotters. We are here to observe the wilderness that uprushes crazily beside the tracks. If you crave solitude, this is where you will come, far from the pretty woods and dog park, far from the municipally tended lawns. Anyone you meet here will be a fellow solitary, and will likely veer wide with downcast eyes. Let us then, in honor of that, cast our eyes down.

And, look ! It is August, the buttery yellow heyday of that aptly named weed, Tansy. It dances from a tentative greeny disc, through flowery yellow, to stiff, black empty cups-on-a-stalk that last the winter long. A glorious trackside Totentanz, and we salute you !

It is a peculiarity of the trackside that you will often spot brushes, stiff with paint, lying amidst the humus and gravel; this one here is announcing its affinity with tansy, but it will lie yellow all winter under snow and emerge yellow in spring. We should feel a pang of sadness for it.

Not all weeds are as elegantly named as tansy, however: here we find delicate little mobcapped spirals that will soon bloat into the purple-black clusters of pokeweed. An ignominious name, to be sure, but a fruit of some erotic gravitas, albeit scorned

by the delicately named and delicately petaled evening primrose, whose translucent greeny yellow announces a colder disposition than tansy. Let us marvel at the transformation to come: this prim and delicate, by fall, will be a stiff wand of golden, woody, pods, mouths flared open to the cold and snow.

There are some creatures here in the trackside wilderness that surprise the most jaded sherpa. Has there ever been such a quiet and feathery pink in these parts, the mothy equivalent of virginal gingham ? What is gingham ? Never mind.

We must not tarry. There are creatures and environments that await us -- like this delicately brown seminiferous stalk, quaintly named poor man's pepper, stiff in a lashing gale of past-its prime brome.

And here is a more architectural sight -- not just one discarded drinks cup, but a nested stack of them. Regard their dull and washed out blue. Then contemplate, if you will, their origin and end. We will stop and observe a moment of silence now.

But just a moment, because before us, even in these late summer days, we find another weed of virginal delicacy, the bladder campion. And well might you gasp at the unfortunate and vulgar name. Pause, now, to reflect on the discordance of appearance and essence. Apply it, if you will, to your own existence.

You will note that modes of demise are crosscultural. Note the homology of the frayed stitiching of this moribund billed cap and the unraveling of certain weeds. This should instruct us in a type of sympathy.

And here we have, once again, the intimate collusion of poor man's pepper and brome. Take a moment to observe that what might seem at first to be an uninteresting beige, is actually a mixture of brown and pink and yellow !

Let us rest our eyes; close focus is tiring; gaze, if you will, at the wild cucumber scrolling out of and across the dark woods.

And when you have had your fill, look down at your feet -- a device that, chameleon like, mimics the thrust and tangle of trackside vines !

But we must press on. Weeds, like this foxtail, are emerging from the Great Neant (sometimes only French will do) to accompany us on our trek.

Others are ascending heavenward like denizens of an El Greco painting.

And, suddenly, a palimpsest: ONO on XO. Ponder it: a hug and a kiss overwritten by a negation ? Or ONOXO, a lost ruin from the land of Macchu Picchu ? Perhaps it is the name of this land, this trackside wilderness !

And perhaps this is its pink-and-cream demure Goddess, pondering our consignment to the depths of Chichan Itza !

Swim with me through the weedlight, my companions, past creatures we will not name,

past old friends,

and onto the gravely far shore of tiny glass sirens,


and monuments to the world's intrinsic fire of oxidation -- vide supra, friends, the train in your blood.

for the world and we are burning, burning, burning (cf. the Saint who is Patron of this hot month)

Our letters singe until we are oven -oasted

and must plunge into the cool, green sea of Dutch Rush as if it could quench the feverish, midsummer heat of our reckless, inexorable combustion !

(But, of course, it can't.)

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