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Monday Photo Meditation: We Stand Deeply Rooted In This Earth . . . Always Looking Upward.

It’s that day again — the one that, in my childhood, was always and forever on October 12th. It eventually became more convenient to the authorities that be to reallocate it to the second Monday in October, the better to take advantage of a three-day weekend.

You will notice that I have said neither the name of the day, as currently recognized most places, nor of its [still mostly suggested] replacement label. You will also notice that I replaced the usual word in the phrase that refers to institutions with “authorities.” All of that is intentional, utterly deliberate, entirely by design.

I’ve written in years past about the internal conflict Wings and I both face with regard to this day, and to the debates that continue to rage over its label. There is another name that I have, for many years now, given to this day, one that includes a profanity sufficient to express my contempt for the whole shallow discourse and for the structures and systems that underlie it.

But for the moment, I choose not to speak the names of those who perpetrate and perpetuate genocide, historically and today. I have already been forced to deal with more than this day’s allocation of racial resentment this morning, the kind that endangers on a very personal level, and I am done with engaging with white supremacy and its works in any substantive way for the moment.

Instead, the remainder of this day will be devoted to this earth whence we come, to which we belong and whose care is entrusted to us; on the beauty of this season, favorite to both of us; to our life together and love for each other and for our cultures and traditions and most essential ways of being.

And it is a beautiful day today — here, at least. Dawn arrived amid mostly clear skies after a long, soft, gentle night rain. The clouds moved in again shortly thereafter, dancing with sun and fiery foliage to create a spiraling kaleidoscope of color and light. Now, they have parted sufficiently to allow a view of some of the peaks, and the first snow frosts the Spoonbowl. A red-tailed hawk has made camp in a weeping willow while her mate hunts high on the currents.

And the aspens, not so long ago fragile beings now grown tall and strong, have just begun to turn.

It’s barely visible, this turning of the colors, on our aspens here. Across the highway, trees of all varieties are more gold and amber and brown than they are green, but ours, situated in the lowest-lying portion of this bit of land, are virtually always the last in our area to exchange their modest summer robes for autumn flash and fire. They turn in their own good time, as though deliberately declining to rush headlong toward winter.

We take their point and follow their lead.

Long, long ago, Wings taught me another gift the aspens offer: one of perspective. In truth, virtually any tree will do likewise, but the aspens — particularly during the months of autumn and winter — offer a special vantage point and a spectacular view, courtesy of their bone-white trunks and wildly animated and changeable leaves. They are beautiful to observe from an ordinary point of view, seeing each tree standing upright, viewed from the side. But stand directly beneath one’s canopy, right next to the trunk, and look up. Follow the bold straight line, marked with horizontal dark “eyes” like the steps of a ladder, straight upward. Learn to recognize the point at which the low green shifts slowly to chartreuse, thence to gold, perhaps even to amber already here and there — a point that will change as the season wears, lowering itself and intensifying its brilliant use of color.

And then look beyond.

Even in the lushest days of summer, when the leaves are at their fullest, the sky remains visible, little bits of cornflower scattered here and there among the green. Now, its color is closer to the turquoise for which this place is known, and it shows more of itself as the leaves thin, curling in on themselves like an elder wrapping herself more closely in a shawl, the better to ward off the season’s chill.

The aspens are as indigenous to this land as we, their roots extending deep into the soil, their bodies standing strong in the face of all comers, including colonizers and the climate change they have brought and wrought.

We can learn from them, and we do. On this day, Wings and I choose to focus on this: We stand deeply rooted in this earth . . . always looking upward.

There are no limits on this future. The Seventh Generation will be conceived and born and will grow into its own deep roots, the better to stand tall and strong and birth its own Seventh Generation. We do not “remain”; we live and grow and thrive. This earth we have always belonged to each other, and so it shall always be, so long as we are rooted in the land, keeping our vision skyward toward the spirits.

~ Aji











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