The view from my bedroom window overlooks a canopy of trees. It’s one I know well, facing as it does the chair in which I rock my baby. Just as David Haskell in The Forest Unseen found endless fascination in his one-square-meter patch of forest, the window and its ever-changing rectangle of sky and branches never cease to engage me. Today, the dogwood’s leaves are reddish-purple against a backdrop of heavy clouds. Tomorrow, it might be a gaggle of geese or a squirrel’s nest that catches my eye.
If there is one area—or mandela, in Haskell’s terminology–of the Arboretum that best reflects the shifting seasons, for me it would be the floodplain at the entrance to the woodland paths. In February, skunk cabbage’s peculiar purple blooms emerge through the frozen ground, later uncurling into the enormous “elephant ears” I collected as a child. The Blockston Branch swells in spring rain and then dwindles in dry summer. Now, with fall’s arrival, its waters are barely visible beneath a cloak of leaves.
Revisiting a familiar spot in nature grounds us. We are reminded that where there is change there is also continuity. This reminder speaks to me daily as I sit in the rocking chair, poised between the window and the windows of my daughter’s blue eyes.
by Jenny Houghton
Youth Program Coordinator