The scent of spring on a late night breeze conjures Neruda

Quiero hacer contigo lo que la primavera hace con los cerezos

The famous D.C. cherry blossoms on one of my middle-of-the-night rides last week. Warm breeze, the scent of the blossoms and I reminisce of Neruda and the love of my life. The cherry blossoms always do that. The last two stanzas of Sonnet XIV:

My words rained over you, stroking you.
A long time I have loved the sunned mother-of-pearl of your body.
I go so far as to think that you own the universe.
I will bring you happy flowers from the mountains, bluebells,
dark hazels, and rustic baskets of kisses.

I want
to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.

Maybe I’m cliche and schmaltzy. I’m OK with that. Of course one Neruda poem immediately has me reading another.

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Fireworks as I buzz by…

Burst of color

A blurry, jarring Costa Rican bus ride from Puerto Viejo de Talamanca to San Jose. I was absolutely enamored by these white barked trees with bright orange blossoms that flew by my window.

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It’s festival season!

Now I just need a puzzled monkey

Per tradition, I have today, the day after Thanksgiving, decorated a nifty little tree in my apartment, hung some bits of garland and turned on some holiday tunes.

Festival season — the Dussehra to New Year’s Eve blitz — has been underway for a while. I’m celebrating Diwali late with lights and Christmas early with my Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla), also known as the Monkey Puzzle tree.

No more cut trees, as beautiful and mulch-compostable as they are. I went with a live evergreen that I picked at a local nursery. It’s already nearly five-feet tall and if properly treated for the next several years it will continue to grow even indoors. This is a more grown-up version of the same tree I had in India for a few seasons.

As I type this, I’m already basking in warm, holiday glow.

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Jadoo tree

Behatar sath sath hei, na?

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Jadoo tree

My favorite tree in the world

Neem, the magical, medicinal tree of India. This one towers over a courtyard in the Qutub Minar complex and carries with it so many fond memories.

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Lonely tree

I wish I could be there with her

I love this beach. I love her. I want them together.

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Jingle bells, ringing in my ear…

My christmas tota

There’s been no sign of snow around, and the weather has actually been unseasonably warm until this weekend. But per tradition, I have had a decorated Christmas tree in my apartment and holiday music on the stereo for weeks now.

I actually bought the seven-foot Frazier fir on Thanksgiving itself (the grocery store was open and I had no desire to go the next day and put up with Black Friday crowds). In keeping with my goal of not using cars, I Metro’d and walked to a Whole Foods, bought the tree, carried it back to the Metro stop, rode in an almost empty car with my tied tree and then marched the rest of the way home.

I of course left a breadcrumb trail of needles and broken fir branches along the way.

The tree is spartanly decked with ribbon, white lights, wall hangings with sayings of the Dalai Lama and some strings of Indian door hangings, including the papier-mâché parrots. I also strung some holly garland around a few lamps and tied a long red ribbon around a door (giving it the loose impression of a wrapped present.

The apartment smells like a combination of cinnamon scented pine cones, a lovely sage candle and that beautiful fir.

I’ve also hung the annual string of lights across the top of the blog.

I realize this season is too often a celebration of gluttony and satisfying material addiction. But perhaps we can cleave to peace and goodwill amongst all, instead. Happy holidays everyone.

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Ode to autumn

Rubrum maple

Stare straight up at flames on blue canvas. Stare straight up so long that your neck hurts. Wait for the breeze to rustle limb and branch and leaf. Wait for it.

Wait some more.

A single leaf falls And then another and another. Sparks from natural fire that warm my soul.

(It’s been two years since I’ve seen a North American autumn. God bless it.)

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My favorite tree

In the entire world

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Plantas de la selva: Vol. 12

High, high above the forest

Palms in the Oriente are some of the most useful trees for the Shuar community.

Palms of varying types are used at different stages of their growth: Seeds are actually collected for planting as well as for jewelry and crafts. Leaves are used for covering and roofs. Palm heart — an incredibly tasty but not so sustainable produce — is collected from some trees for food. The roots harbor all manner of insects for eating. And the hardwood of a full-grown tree is precious and durable.

As volunteers, we spend several afternoons gathering their seeds and then dispersing them on to open fields.

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