my family came to portland for this holiday, which coincided with my birthday this year, one out of seven or eight, i can’t remember. i had a nice little respite from the sixteen hour days i’ve been putting in and talked with my family and let the cat sleep on my bed. i am putting in a garden at the house i’ve been renovating. or in the beginning design stages of the yard, etc. my father is an expert green thumb and gave me some very interesting advice about the planting of trees. for years growing up i watched him plant trees: we have a small apple orchard there at the family house, lots of japanese maples, plumbs, pears, a lovely birch and an elm tree that was nearly killed several years ago by a drunk driver crashing into her on the corner of the property (the drunk was fine). so part of this observation process was my dad’s preparation of the hole into which the rootball would go. he always saturated the large hole with nutrients beyond measure: fishbone fertilizer, all kinds of organic compounds, and i won’t demonstrate my ignorance as to what else. (sometimes a placenta)… he told me over the holiday that he had had an arborist out to give him some council on new plants (trees) he would like to put in and the arborist took a look around and asked what my father had been doing to prep the holes. my father explained: see above. the arborist explained to him that this is actually a pretty grave mistake when planting a young tree of a couple or several years. the reason being that the youthful roots will chase the savory soil without ceasing: they love the nutrient rich soil and will follow it around like fish in a small bowl, avoiding the larger, scarier, less nutrient rich world around the tank of fertile goodness. so the tree will grow less and will be like a child with silver spoon imbedded in his personality until he learns better, which will probably be never. so the roots entwine around themselves until they cannot any longer and you have a beautiful little tree, emphasis on little, lacking its gritty, hardier adult nature… forever. so, when planting a tree like this, my father tells me, it is more important to make the hole just barely large enough and leaving the tap roots exposed above ground level just a bit so the tree must work for its sustenance, which it will. it breaks through the tough soil and reaches earthwards until it begins to sustain and draw all the nutrients it needs from the area, and working harder and growing bigger in the process. tough love. i find that my father may have planted me in this overly enriched soil and that i have been swirling a little. it is my aim in this coming succession of nows to reach into the harder, larger and less fertile world to strech my subterranean tendrils and draw from this place a grandeur of which my youth and upbrining may have never dreamt.

the silverback gorillas

today it sunk in that the rains are here, perhaps to stay. i did a bit of driving around, procuring things, talking to people… wishing that this country had those lovely stand up bars of europe where one can … stand, talk to his companion at bar and enjoy a lovely little espresso over conversation of the items of the day. news, banter, and brotherhood. or sisterhood.
i say this because i wanted to have one of those animated conversations with a mad italian about something i heard on the news, on the radio, as i drove around.
npr had a brief overview of all this debate happening a propos of ABORTION. i know i am not a woman, so i’m hoping not to step on any toes here, even though i am, i’m sure of it. the installment was on this (alreaday somewhat specious term) “partial birth abortion.” albeit, it doesn’t sound too good, does it? but i was picking up from the radio show that this is a highly controversial issue and one that conservatives are probably using to further push the issue of democrats’ archaic barbarity (is that a word?). i think somehow this procedure was developed from removing a miscarried fetus from the womb/cervix… via mechanical device. then becoming some technique used to abort a fetus at late stages of development–most likely for a mother/woman WHO DOES NOT WANT THE BABY. there were medical experts on the show saying that this is a standard procedure, wrought with little danger, highly researched and a fine way of accomplishing that which it claims to effect. and then, of course, because npr is somewhat good a being non-biased, there were others saying that this procedure is, I quote, “barbaric” and must stop, full stop. listening, i was reminded of learning about the behaviors of the silverback gorillas of the Congo ( this is an impressive animal, to say very little. there is a routine among them, travelling in groups, where, when a female bears offspring, the silverback (a matured male, leader) comes to examine the newborn member of the tribe. this is a tense moment. he evaluates, based on smell, feel, etc. of the newborn thing, whether it should exist or not. (you can imagine the mother must be nervous at this critical time of her offspring’s life) if he determines that it is good, he sniffs it and nuzzles it and kisses it and gives his “blessing” to the new mother. if, however, he does not like something about the birth–who know for what reason–he promptly snatches up the new little gorilla and smashes it against the ground, giving it instant sanctuary in the void out of which it came.
i find this ritual somewhat strange to be honest. but it is part of nature, as are many other somewhat “brutish” things. it happens. in nature. we are in nature. the large gorilla smashing the babies. evidently the mothers are distressed at this eventuality, but accept it as part of the way of the tribe. i am not trying to directly compare this phenomenon with partial birth abortion, but merely trying to illuminate how completely and utterly weak of stomach and spleen our civilization has become. i can see some logic in the old testimate of forbibidding homosexuality and bestiality based on yahweh’s desire to see his “race” continue on and prosper… but we have far surpassed that age of worry whether we are going to survive or not… whether or not we are still “good” in the eyes of the creator, and have already done a somewhat admirable job of accepting those elements of nature heretofore forbidden, like homosexuality for one. and what i want to evidence more specifically is how weak we have become with respect to human health in these matters. greeks and romans (a small minority of world populations… who also practiced other such rituals) sacrificed ad nauseam all kinds of human beings, including first born, eldest, christians, pagans, gods, and animals. they did it with respect and deep understanding of the infinite beyond which awaits us all. people until recently would gather at hangings and executions, with full knowledge of the culpability (or lack thereof) of the subject at hand… full amphitheaters to watch the sacrifice of some unknowing christian at the mercy of lions, baths in blood, etc. the art of augury was alive and well. reading fortunes and futures in the entrails of animals and humans alike and doing it with awareness and respect. mr. f. nietzsche goes on and on about this in the “genealogy of morals:” our weakened appetites for the reality of life: pumping blood, bone and sperm.
all i can conjur up in myself about this is that if the woman wants it gone, makes the decision herself and has the stamina and stomach and will to go through with something like this, then LET IT BE. and the right wing are the ones who say that it’s life at conception… so the whole process (abortion) to them is murder anyway… then what do they care about making distinctions between an hour and a month and eight months. logically. let’s gird our loins a little and get ready to go into one of the most nauseating chapters of history with a little grit. yes, it’s life. but its light is not stationary and it is only light because it came from that darkness. embrace it! the all.
the silverbacks are probably in harmony… and we, in our disjointed reality of wellness, are bickering about saving the droplets that are bound for the vast sea anyway.
as a sidenote, “barbaric” is a poor term for something one considers “not good” or outdated or cruel, as it is merely the greek term for someone who is not greek. the other. it refers to the sound, generalized, that the greeks heard from the lips of foreigners: “bar-bar-bar….”
i write with highest hopes,
good luck and goodnight.