My imagination makes me human
and makes me a fool;
it gives me all the world
and exiles me from it.
--Ursula K. Le Guin
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May, 2006 - Catalpas and Clover

The catalpas are blooming along the river walk. The orchid-like blooms are pure perfume, up there with honeysuckle and magnolia blossoms on a seduction scale. I'm amazed and grateful that the city didn't cut them down and plant Bradford pears or some other inferior ornamental. The catalpa is one of those prolific, hardy, fruit-bearing trees like the sycamore and elderberry that have come to be denigrated for those very reasons. Today, the sanitized look is in favor, lawns and streetscapes devoid of the lush and healthy chaos that nature depends on.

Recently, sitting in Old Gray Cemetery after a shower, I picked a clover blossom and held it to my nose. I had forgotten how wonderful clover smells, how sweet the grass smelled when I was a child. Old Gray is an old-fashioned garden cemetery spread over gently rolling land that was once pasture. No chemicals are used, and the grass cohabits with buttercups, wild strawberries, clover, dandelions and wild violets. If I go there before early- or mid-May before the first mowing, I gather bouquets and tuck into the upturned palms of the stone angels. And the honeybees, what few are left, find sustenance there.

It's no wonder that the honeybee population has declined dramatically. With more and more wild spaces poisoned by asphalt, chemicalized lawns, and trees hybridized for fast growth and low mess, i.e., sans fruit, the honeybee, like many other insects, is being decimated by disease and starvation. Just east of here, a farmer has been approached by a developer who wants to buy three hundred acres of now unused farmland for a Christian theme park. When a few residents in the community protested, one man interviewed by local TV news said, "I don't see what's the problem. There's nothing there but trees."