Friday, September 25, 2009

On missing the wood because you're barking up the wrong tree

I was walking home from the archive one beautiful, sunny day, when I decided to stop and take a picture of a tree. I’ve been walking the same route for weeks now, passing this three twice a day, but I have never noticed just how beautiful it is. It is tall – very tall, in fact – but it doesn’t look too tall, since it’s also a very wide tree. If I am to give a rough estimate of how wide the crown is (keep in mind, very rough, since estimates fall into the category my brain defines as “science” and thus “not my domain”) I’d say it’s maybe 15 square meters. The branches stretch out, neatly, but not too evenly – just enough so it doesn’t look lopsided, but not so much that it looks trimmed. Because this is a wild tree – no doubt about it. To emphasize the wildness, the stem is covered with a climbing vine, striving to join the leaves of the crown in a beautiful harmony.

Are you tired of reading my lyrical description of this wonderful tree yet? Or are you happily imagining sparkling fairies fluttering around the vine-covered stem? Either way, there is a question that surely must be pressing – why are you describing this tree with words when you simply can show us the picture you took? Well, actually, you hit a sore spot there. Because there is no picture (and that is the topic of today’s post, the tree merely plays a secondary role in the upcoming tale).

Why is there no picture?

Let me assure you, none of the normal excuses apply. Yes, I did have my camera with me. Since it’s my primary working tool in the archive, Buck has become my companion through thick and thin. No, she didn’t have film in her, but then again, that is of little relevance since she’s a digital camera. Before you have the time to reply to that, let me quickly add that she did have a memory card. One that wasn’t full (though it was not empty either – 283 pictures taken from three archive boxes). Battery? Well, actually, that is almost correct – there was little enough battery left for that to be a perfectly valid excuse. But then I’d have no blog post (or at least a significantly shorter one). The lack of sufficient battery capacity does play a role, but still, it’s not the superstar. (When will I get to the point, you say? Never! I laugh evilly. But then I will reluctantly admit that I am on my way.)

I stopped and pulled out my camera. I removed the lens cover (there goes another potential reason); adjusted the camera; looked through the little thingie that isn’t the screen (I like to pretend I know what I’m doing, after all) and was just about to take the picture that forever would capture the spirit of this tree, when I was rudely interrupted. A car had stopped behind me, and a voice called out from it.

My first thought was “please, don’t let it be the owner”. The tree, wild as it may look, was after all firmly placed in the middle of a neatly trimmed lawn, in front of a “two SUVs and a Porsche”-looking garage and a huge house with lots of windows where the blinds were firmly shut. The entire property screamed “paparazzis will be shot first, then questioned”. And yet I thought it would be a good idea to wave my camera around like a crazy person.

Slowly, I turned around, to face my potential killer. The guy in the car looked good-natured enough, but you never know with potential killers. I kept my distance (which was a pretty safe one, considering he was on the other side of the road).

“Excuse me, you couldn’t tell me where X Road is?” he asked.

Seeing as the driver was asking for directions, it was apparent (even to me) that this was not the owner, and thus I simply wanted the man to go away, before the real owner turned up, or my battery died (whichever came first). However, even if I had wanted to help him, I don’t know any roads in our neighbourhood named X. Therefore I put on my finest Norwegian accent (reserved for occasions such as this) and replied: “Sorri, I am djust a torist, I don’t know where aniting is!”

He looked at me suspiciously, but as I was holding a camera, my story seemed likely enough. “Just a tourist, huh?” he said, and took off. Happy that this minor setback was overcome, I returned to my task. The battery was very nearly dead now, so it took me a few moments to convince the camera to wake up again. Just as I was ready – another car approached and slowed down.

What – was this “plague the photographer” day? Again I turned around, half expecting the same guy to be back, accusing me of employing a fake Norwegian accent since I, after all, had been able to pronounce W. Only this time it wasn’t a false alarm. One of the SUVs who belonged in the garage whose tree I desperately was trying to capture, nearly pushed me into the ditch as it pulled over and into the driveway I seconds earlier had been standing in. I was worthy of one hateful look cast from the woman in the car before the (automatically opened) garage door swallowed both her and the car. She was quite obviously on her way to find her shotgun, and as my battery in that very instant shut down completely (probably out of fear), I realized it was not meant to be.

I could go back another day, (at the risk of my life and pride,) to once more try to photograph the tree. But I think the opportune moment passed – it’s time to face that some pictures are just not supposed to be taken.


Watery Tart said...

BUWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I love that you have all the spelling to catch your accent down. I will be curious to hear if your accent has lessened after living in the US.

Sorry about not getting your picture. If you want I can sent a stink-eye hex at the lady that scowled at you.

And we have a lovely tree in our front yard (complete with woodpeckers yesterday even)--you are welcome to take pics of it.

M.J. Nicholls said...

Not enough attention is given to the beauty of the inner-city tree. Your description was the necessary wodge of loveliness in an otherwise fairly wodge-free day.

Viva the trees, and viva pretending to be a tourist.

Word verification: swelling

Rayna M. Iyer said...

Some pictures are not meant to be taken. That is the fact.

But maybe the reason for it is that if there picture were taken, that beautiful description would not have got written.

Cruella Collett said...

Tami - it still irks me whenever someone can tell there's an accent there at all (except when I want them to, of course). The other day a guy in a store asked me where I was from since he picked up a "teeny nice little accent". I answered "Ohio", but as he turned out to be from Ohio, I was busted... ;) I don't actually think my accent is that much different than it was the last time you saw me, other than that I would assume it helps that I'm not confused by the British accents floating around in Cardiff/London this time...
(Tree and hex possibilities are much appreciated)

M.J. - I'm glad you had an otherwise wodge-free day! And that you apparently are of the fairy-imagining kind ;) My heart is swelling with pride!

Natasha - you are of the fairy-imagining kind too! ;) I'm glad you enjoyed it, though :)

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