Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Yesterday as I was eating lunch, during a meditative lull in my ruminations I turned and looked out the door to check the garden (I'd earlier seen a solo scout-monkey nonchalantly strolling the roofridge of the house across the road, covertly ogling my reddening tomatoes) when my eye was caught by Buddha waving at me from within the chestnut tree - the tree that is even now sending out its ivory catkins and blessing the air with chestnut perfume.

I had to blink to see if it was maybe my aging eyes, or a seldom overactive religious imagination, but no, it was Buddha alright, perfectly framed in the deck railing, Buddha as depicted in the ancient way in the dark grotto, right down to the soul patch. I'd recognize him anywhere, and though I certainly wouldn't expect to see him in a grilled cheese sandwich or a highway oil slick or anything - like some decorum-deficient icons I know - he was perfectly at home amidst the moss on the side of the flowering chestnut tree.

This cannot but be a good omen, I felt, before getting the camera; perhaps the monkeys will leave me more of my tomatoes and plums this year? Or perhaps the graceful wave of that five-fingered lichen hand was assurance of other good fortune pending for us all, like a sudden administration change in my home country. Or the wise one might be sagely saying: “Don't get your hopes up.”

Closer up, Buddha was found to consist of an impressive blend of lichen, bark, moss and illumination, but truth resides as much in the distant view as in the near. Thank god Buddha wasn't one of those miracle-wielding gurus, so there won't be any reverent mobs climbing the mountain to trample my garden while clutching freshly bought lottery tickets.

Despite numerous suggestions, the tree will not be offered on eBay; and when said online gaming enterprise calls and offers me 50,000 dollars or so for just that section of the trunk to put in their redeemer museum alongside the grilled cheese and French toast, I shall tell them that Buddha is not for sale.

Nature will be nature, though, so I suspect that when the delayed seasonal rains finally come pouring down the side of that tree, we may well be favored with the apparition of Jimi Hendrix, another of Buddha's many forms.

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