Background Switcher (Hidden)

Back to Beauty

Sunday, February 9, 2014

I'm still on my rainy Sunday run, looking at things in an upside-down way. And a funny thing happens. I just keep seeing beauty. Chet and I leave the road to tromp down through the woods to see these three beeches, still wearing their party dresses of leaves frozen and bleached. I love how young beeches do that. Wouldn't it be amazing if entire groves of mature beeches hung onto their leaves through the winter? I wonder why young beeches are marescent and old ones aren't.

Because you'll wonder if you haven't heard the word, here's Alphonso Wood in The American Botanist and Florist, 1876.

Marescent. A good word, rarely used. I'm sure we can all think of examples of things that wither without falling off. Heh.

The road stretches out before us. It's a good road. I confess to being a little tired of running it, but I can't go to my usual haunts when it's icy or muddy, because all my usual haunts are on dirt roads, and I have to contend with falling down and washing the dog each time we run if I try those. As it is, I still had to wash him when we got back from this one. Now he smells of vanilla honey baby wash. Mmmmm.

A whitetail cleared a little low, left some belly hair on a barb. Come spring a Carolina chickadee will be the first to take that offering for her nest. 

Another leaf stencil

I've shot this tree and this little lane again and again. Here it is from another angle. 

My beautiful open-grown sassafras, from afar. It's the rightmost tree.

On a slightly more salubrious evening I photographed its exquisite branch structure. 
It's as if it doesn't quite know what to do with itself, growing out in the open. Sassafras is a deep forest and edge tree, usually packed in like a sardine among others, growing up straight and thin and branching only at the top. 

This tree, for all its grandeur, is barely more than 20' tall. It appeals to the bonsai maker in me.

 We run along to a spot just before the German shepherd's house, beyond which we can no longer go. 
And I see a cow grazing. It turns to look at me and makes the most marvelous crooked shape, echoed in the rhombuses of snow and the shed. Oh oh oh. My eyes!

Chet is intrigued by this scene as well. It is a fine moment. My camera is looking up again, and so am I.

 We turn for home. The skies lower, and lower some more. Iceballs from outer space begin pelting us, each one a tiny stinger. Chet lays back his ears and breaks for the car, which is over two miles away. It occurs to me that no good deed (just trying to get a little exercise, for gosh sakes) goes unpunished this winter. Despite all the shuttersnapping, I still have a bit of battery on my phone, and I use the last of it to text Phoebe. " Look outside. At Buck's Gate. Please come save us?"

"On my way!"

We run and the iceballs turn to big smothering wet snowclumps which quickly dampen us. The wind picks up. We run. Soon, the sound of a familiar engine. Chet recognizes the sound of Phoebe's car and joyfully leaps against the door as she rolls to a stop. Mether!! How did Phoebe know to come save us?? He stands on my lap, nose to the heat vent, and heaves a happy sigh. 

 The most beautiful sight of all, our savior and a warm home. 

 By the next morning there would be 9" of snow on it all. Again.

February 3, 2014.


Marescent is a good word to use when you want to insult someone AND leave them scratching their head. A twofer! I can see it now:

Mimi to archnemesis: "Oh your skin is so marescent! You MUST tell me what products you use!"

Archnemesis: "....Um... thank you?..."

Thank you for bringing a smile to my face this morning, AND teaching me a new word. (I promise to use it wisely, and only as a last resort!)

Posted by Anonymous February 9, 2014 at 3:36 AM

I always think of those beech trees as Ghosts of summers past. I had never heard of this marescent word. I probably won't remember it either but I will remember my lesson of why the leaves are marescent. Happy running.

I love words, too. The ones that just roll off the tongue. And mean precisely what you intended.

And much as we love our children when they are little, isn't it nice to have a daughter who can grab the car keys and come to your rescue? And share so many other things with you?

I see from the photos you have bare ground occasionally. We haven't seen the ground since before Christmas. The snow banks are getting out of hand.

Now if I could just figure out how to use marescent in conjunction with politicians.

Spring is one day closer.

[Back to Top]