Monday, January 30, 2012

Ripening

I strolled Mount Auburn cemetery yesterday afternoon with Walnut and her bf. The bf is a tree fanatic and likes to gather seeds there for at-home tree propagation. I brought my binoculars and watched a pair of turkeys, a red-tailed hawk, and a woodpecker. Some dodo was making his way towards the turkeys. Lucky for him I am a volunteer nature cop. I told him to leave them alone because sometimes turkeys can be very aggressive.

Walnut's bf introduced me to the Kentucky coffeetree, whose seed pods are filled with hard brown beans encased in guacamole-esque green goo. Apparently the early settlers roasted the beans as a coffee substitute. Later we came upon a giant leaky maple and someone suggested I lick it. It didn't feel right to lick a tree in a graveyard, so instead I dragged my finger through the liquid and licked my finger instead. It didn't taste like anything. But I'm still pretty sure it was sap. I remember licking a maple tree at the corner of our summer fort at Grammy McQ's house. The fort was located in an alcove of sorts bordered on one side by a stone retaining wall and on another by a flight of cement stairs, at the top of which was a barberry bush with long red berries and lots of prickers. Apparently you can eat barberries. I was afraid of them as a kid.

There was a fair amount of creepiness at the cemetery; Walnut's bf found a fresh grave - I think the person had died nine days ago - behind a mausoleum. The ground had cracked in a rectangle, which I assumed was the size and shape of the cement box they tend to put coffins in these days. Earlier we'd peered in a mausoleum whose windows were dark and smeary, like plexiglass. What I saw inside made me want to wash my eyeballs. I don't really know why. It was a stained glass window of baby angels, but something about the quality of the light and the subject matter just made me shiver.

Luckily some douchenozzle who'd died a long time ago provided us with much-needed comic relief, in the form of a long epitaph extolling his many virtues. It continued on for at least two sides of an obelisk and used words like "thenceforth." But the best part was the mention of a trip to Europe, where he'd "ripened his powers." Ahem.