10,000 Years of Pollen: Storyline

An expert in New England’s ancient forests shares the story of taking a core sample from a pond not far from my library — easily within a few hours’ walk — and extracting 10,000-years-worth of planetary history. 10,000 years of pollen!

I’m standing in the dark in the back, while a few latecomers step in, carrying the cold on their coats, kicking snow from their boots. I’m also coincidentally near the hot tea, which I urge my guests to take.

10,000 years. His chart graphs the fluctuation of trees in this plot of Vermont — the persistence of beech, rise of rock maple. Exquisitely, I think of a larch not far from the library, how cool and welcoming that forest is in the summer, how brilliantly yellow its autumn needles. The extremely large view and the absolute specific.

Afterwards, finally home with my girls who are in an especially good humor, I think of the UVM museum my youngest and I just visited, chockfull of very ancient human artifacts, a variation of pollen — and in particular the arrowheads found along Lake Champlain. Whose hands made these?

Still socked in by winter… no pollen in the wild wind in the conceivable future…

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Specific child, specific 5 degree day, Burlington, February, 2019.

Tree Collecting

I stepped outside the Montpelier Library today and stood for a moment with my face turned up to a shower of cherry tree blossom petals steadily raining down.

As a writer, I collect words I particularly love: myriad and succor, litany and exquisite, constellation and pinwheeling. For years now in my travels around Vermont, I’ve noted particular trees of exceptional grace, like Hardwick’s beauty mark of three silver maples on route 15.

Last weekend, stepping out the back door of my brother’s brewery, I nearly walked into an enormous apple tree covered in pearly blossoms and humming bees. What’s this?  I asked.

Amazing tree, he answered.

What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.

– Issa

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Photo by Molly S.