The aged wooden planks beneath my sandals reverberate just enough with each step to ignite my almost anticipatory sensory system, which is apparently the factory default setting in this body of mine. Sounds, smells, every leaf brand new to me as if for the first time, although I have been walking this same boardwalk plank through this ever-shifting bog garden for at least as long as many of these trees have been stretching toward their crowded skyline.
I lean over the edge of the railing, putting as much as possible of the presence of the boardwalk behind my direct line of sight, minimize other visitors whose presence is audibly known, and initiate a manual fade on that feed line taking more concentration against my already-bogged sensory system. I’m looking for the knobby knees of the Bald Cypress trees that have gathered here, collected themselves into their own community amongst the ducks, the almost-always shallow side swamp to the larger but still-connected lake of some collective committee’s making, and down-stream and almost hidden from the other deciduous, but dirt-dwelling trees.
I smile out loud and my laughter bounces off the nearby bamboo, dense in the aggregate knowing of its usefulness amidst any negative (and obviously completely false) rumors that sometimes get dropped by a passing robin too self-absorbed with his own shade of red to be bothered by what his beaked notes might mean to the wide-open ears of the bamboo below.
Next to me (and invited into my self-constructed cone of connectivity) on the elevated boardwalk, as I lean into my lean (those cypress nodes are consuming all of my attention), Curt points to a beautiful tree above my head and asks whether I know its name, his tone clearly indicating he is not asking, he is teaching. I do not recognize what appears to be a beautiful evergreen foliage, delicately interlacing her way through the intricate and interconnected branches of the treetop she calls her own.
His grin immediately fills all seven acres of this luscious green garden space as he announces, “It’s the Bald Cypress!”
My delight and my shock startle the birds in the branches above. I am immediately aware that this anticipatory sensory system I call my own has failed to focus on the two necessary parts of one self-sufficient ecosystem. The Bald Cypress’ knees so captivated me I did not overlook, but actually under-looked the very creation of this majestic multifaceted dweller on earth or underwater achiever. I am internally brought to my own knees, my sensory system recalibrating in real-time, coding my newly-propagated desire to always look in as many directions as the cypress stretches itself: up, down, around, under, and over me. I shift my lean back into full-standing alongside the Bald Cypress, my sandals exit the boardwalk planks; I leave only the remnants of my laughter to contribute to the aging of the planks.