Thursday, June 18, 2009


The basket of wet laundry was only slightly heavy, and the damp clothes smelled like the damp earth and grass beneath my feet - only with a touch of fabric softener. As I hung the sheets, they snapped in the wind. It was one of those mornings when everything is so warm and humid that you don't realize a cool wind is blowing until you hold up a sail.

Turning to survey the yard behind me, and also to enjoy the sunshine (it's been raining a LOT lately!) I noticed a flash of green. A brilliantly colored inchworm sailed from his invisible thread, dangling from tree branches many yards above us. Though I was in the shade, he caught the sunlight - and the breeze. Twisting, tumbling, wiggling, he was visible, ...then disappeared, then reappeared.

What must it be like to sail like that? Such a thin thread - I cannot even see it - yet he flies high in one direction, then is blown far away in another. He is carried up into the sunlight, wriggling as if he enjoys the heat, then circles down, down, down, and yet does not hit the ground. His range is enormous, his thread amazingly long.

Turning back to the bedsheets, my eye follows the clothesline to the tree on which it is tied, and I see lichen growing there, cradled in the branches like fluffy quilts in a baby's bed.

I finish the clothes and go inside, but something pulls me back out for a closer look. I grab the camera, wanting a picture of the inch worm. I spot him from across the yard and step closer slowly, trying to find him in my camera lens.

It is a hopeless task. He flutters like a breath of wind. There is no holding him. He flies toward me like a miniature rocket, and I think I am going to catch him on film, but then he's gone, and I've lost sight of him again. It's okay, because the camera has stopped working anyway.

I slowly approach the tree and lichen. I've always hated that stuff. To me, it equals death. I know it only feeds on death, and therefore is an announcer, not the cause, but I have a hard time keeping the two roles separated in my mind. Lichen likes dead things.

This tree is my friend. As far back as memory goes, I have played around its roots, climbed its branches, had wooden swings hanging from a nice straight branch, leaned against its solid frame and soaked up warmth when I was sad, and pretended all sorts of plays around it. Somehow this tree is part of my childhood.

But trees have lifespans, too.

Lichen shows me what I've known for quite some time; my friend is dying. I want to hate these pale pink-white frills that are sucking up his remaining energy. But something stops me.

This lichen is actually pretty. It is unlike the dark red crinkles I've seen growing on other trees; it's light and plump. I reach out a gentle finger and stroke it, then quickly pull my hand back.

It's smooth, and dry...and rubbery. It actually I take it between my fingers and pinch a fold of it. It's fat and strong. Part of me wants to squeal and say "ooooo yuck!"

But part of me is full of awe. He made this too. It's fascinating. It's unusual.

What a world this is. What creation is found in it. What a Creator we have.


Anna said...

Hey Amber!
It was great to finally meet you at the convention. Sorry I was so busy, otherwise I would have loved to talk more. Maybe next year, or you guys could come up for a jam!

And lichen is pretty sweet! Isn't it one of those symbiotic relationships you learn about in biology?


Amber said...

It was nice to meet you too, Anna! I'm afraid I was pretty overwhelmed by all that was going on around us, but I did enjoy talking with you and hope to see you again sometime. Jamming would be SO fun! You'll have to let me know if y'all ever come down our way. :)