My Garden Grows Helicopters
Morning, waiting for rain. My columbines are higher than my waist. The forsythia has turned the backyard into a jungle. And we are nearing the end of helicopter season.

Our madwoman eight year old, Chayo, has named the big maples in our back yard. King Ralph and Queen Sally are, she is right, quite regal. Big brutes that tower over the neighbors' trees. And every June, they unleash thousands of maple seeds with their little pterodactyl wings. They break free with the slightest breeze and spin through the air like confetti at an Obama rally. Or, as Chaypo points out, like helicopters.

How can the King and Queen do this every year with such aplomb? Create all these seeds with their amazing aerodynamic design, then launch them to fly all over the yards of all the long-suffering folks hereabouts? Because the most amazing this about the helicopters is that almost every one of them, unless intervened upon, will take today's coming rainstorm as inspiration and creat a tiny maple tree!

I come from the soutwest. We don't have all that much rain. And we don't have sufi maple trees so wild in their devotion that they rain down 10,000 new trees every year,between my dad's and my wife's birthdays. (My dad would have turned 93 yesterday.) If we were all to vanish tomorrow, a dense maple forest would explode out of my front and back lawns. By next year, it would be a foot high. If the helicopter I put in a pot two years ago is any example, the forest would be three feet tall in 24 months. The maple trees growing in my rain gutters would probably pry them loose and drop them.

It is certainly a complex experience for me to weed the garden now. Yes, I am lazy and don't like to weed, and my back is rotten and hurts when I do it. But that's not the point. The point is that I have to weed out a few hundred little trees. I guess it's Godlike (or at least Godzilla-like) to crawl around tearing trees out by the roots. But it also feels like some kind of sin.

No San Diego / Tijuana boy who believes in life could throw miniature trees in the yard waste bag and not feel shocked and guilty. Shouldn't I be finding some Chicago waste-space for them? Shouldn't I be sneaking down to the 'hood around my school and getting the kids and moms to plant them in the trash-lots?

I must confess to you that every time this happens, I think about putting five of them in UPS boxes and sending them to each of you. We could have Teresita Memorial Woods all over the country! You could have your Writing Meditation maple baby in your favorite pot on your kitchen windowsill. Something. Anything.

Well, you know me--I can't help but equate this with writing itself. Most writers I teach seem to have trouble getting something sprouted. But I tell you, once you give in the the literary "helicopter season," once you lie back and let the green fuse of writing/story/prayer/song/poem slide through you, the opposite happens. You start to srop forests. That's what you do when you edit--you know you might be pulling out a perfectly good King Ralph or Queen Sally. But I prefer to think of those glitches in the writing being edited out (when I'm in my good mind, not my self-flogging mind) not as errors, but as seedlings needing to be transferred to some lonely or blighted or barren corner in need of shade and green and birds and more rich oxygen.


By the way, I have been corresponding with the wonderful Yaqui poet, Anita Endrezze. Tell me if this isn't Writing-Fu at its purest--or at least Hummingbird mojo. When I first started The Hummingbird's Daughter, I found myself on a plane seated next to Anita. We spoke of Teresita and medicine and the project. It was one of my first gestational moments. And now, when I'm starting the long work oif Hummingbird II, Anita writes to me out of the blue. I'm tellin' ya--helicopter season is upon us.

More trees!

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