May 7, 2016: Budbreak
Saturday, the air cool, bands of light and dark gray clouds alternating along the sky. The sun threatens to break through every hour or so–a white glare above the hills–but never does. It has been a cold spring.
A quietly momentous day for the tree. Today is the day the first bud split to reveal its inner leaves, all still tightly compressed together. It is some ways out along a slender branch, so there was no good way to capture it in a picture–so it lives out there uncaptured still, roaming free, or as free as a leaf-bud can be, anchored as it is to its corrugated twig. Yesterday was warm and sunny, and half the buds on the tree have fattened, grown longer and more pinkish; it is only after climbing around for some time, swinging back and forth between the trunks, climbing around and down and back up again, crouching here and leaning there, that I see the branch, or the cluster of twigs, that were closest to breaking into leaf, and among them, one–or perhaps two or three, it is difficult to see from this distance, but certainly at least one–that had done so; that had broken, its tightly scaled and budded form split wide, its insides thrust out and expanding by the hour, flush with water and minerals, hungry for sunlight.
I find myself wondering if a bud breaking open is at all like an egg hatching, biologically speaking. Before today I had never thought to ask the question because I had never spent weeks watching leaf buds fatten and eventually hatch.
Of the many reasons I climb, this is not least: to discover a personal relationship to nature, and live out that relation authentically. For me, this authentic or spiritual connection is built on attention, presence, a sense of belonging, and of love, over time. It does not necessarily require knowledge in the scientific or factual senses; it does not demand that I be able to identify every tree and shrub within fifty yards of my tree, or understand the minutiae of the differences between mosses and lichens, or know how the leaf bud breaks–although any and all of these things may focus attention, inspire presence, and deepen love.
Watching this first bud split, I am as delighted as if a duckling had hatched from an egg, or a goat had given birth to kids.