Thursday, January 24, 2019

Not Exactly Phase One

Remember in the original Poltergeist movie how the family house was so disturbed (to put it mildly) because it was built in the subdivision’s “Phase One,” a former cemetery where the developers "only moved the headstones"? (And I hope I didn’t spoil the movie for anyone. I don’t think so, but apologize if I did.)

I have sometimes wondered what was on our property before it was “property.” I know there was a farm here years ago. Our front easement is blessed with a row of about seventeen Osage orange (hedge apple) trees that were the original boundary marker for the farm that was here. I call them my sentinels: those trees are so hard that I know we’re safe from any out-of-control vehicle that could come careening toward my house, whether it be two-person coupe or a truck of some sort. Those trees are like granite and would never allow anything past them.

But before our place was part of a farm, I keep wondering, what was here before?

Recently, my friend and fellow writer Terri Reid wrote about beings called “elementals” on her page. You can check that out if you look up Terri Reid Freaky Friday Jan18, 2019. It is a fascinating article and also very informative. And all while I was reading it, I was thinking to myself, “Yup.” I have a feeling my yard is filled with such beings.

The people who lived in the house before us were members of The Morton Arboretum here in Illinois, an enormous, amazing garden center/outdoor museum. They loved trees and when we bought this house, they had blessed the property with both a ginkgo and a tulip tree in the front, two or three dogwoods plus a Norway maple around the house, a magnolia, and several ornamental crab apple trees. They also grew so many hostas that the lady of the house became known in the neighborhood as “The Hosta Queen.” They knew what they wanted and the yard was beautiful because of their efforts.

Accordingly, if you believe in this sort of thing, trees and other plants come with nature spirits. And whether or not you believe in this sort of thing, I think most of us that have been out in nature, especially the wilds of nature, have at least felt their presence, especially at night. You’re never really alone, out in those woods, and I’m not talking about animals.

My yard is no exception. We’re hardly the wilds, but we do certainly have our share of trees. When we first moved in, we had twenty-seven trees on our property that dropped leaves in the fall and believe me, our collection of raked leaves could have provided enough compost for several farms, or so it seemed. That tree count didn’t even include the evergreens that also live in our yard. In fact, we have so many trees that our raised vegetable garden seems arbitrarily placed just northwest of our patio door. But it isn’t, because that’s the only patch of yard that gets enough sunshine during the summer to sustain a garden. Everything else is under shade.

And so our yard feels very crowded to me. I don’t know what all is out there, and I certainly don’t see them. But I can feel them. When I go out into my yard, doesn’t matter what time of day or night, I feel observed and also marginally, perhaps only cautiously, accepted. I don’t know if anyone ever came to our yard and went crazy injuring plants and possibly trees at some point. I find that hard to believe, there was so much healthy greenery in place when we moved here. But still, whatever is in our yards, hanging around our trees and plants, (maybe herding them, if you like Tolkien’s ents), gives off a very protective, almost defensive vibe, and are not necessarily always welcoming to me.

Most people would say I was crazy. Or, if feeling, charitable, they might say I was overly-imaginative. But there are times I see things just out of the corner of my eye. Hearing something might be more difficult because there is always so much noise in an urban area. But I know what I feel, and I know I’m not alone when I'm out in my yard.

I’m happy that my trees and plants are being well cared-for, but I wish I felt like I had a better rapport with whoever or whatever is out there. I read somewhere, once, that native Hawaiians will ask permission to enter the outdoors, making sure that the spirits who are outside will permit their presence before they set foot out of the house.

Maybe I should consider doing likewise.

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